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Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI)

This term aims to clarify the impact of the state aid rules on the way these services are organised and financed by public authorities. It regulates the types of providers or the access to and the quality of the services, for example.

Services of general economic interest (SGEI) are economic activities that public authorities identify as being of particular importance to citizens and that would not be supplied (or would be supplied under different conditions) if there were no public intervention.

The European Court of Justice has established that SGEIs as services that exhibit special characteristics compared with those of other economic activities. The concept applies to different situations and terms, depending on the member state. Examples are large commercial services providing support to the entire population at affordable conditions eg public transport networks, postal services and a wide range of health and social services.

There is a European Commission guide (in the FAQ section) explaining how EU rules in the fields of state aid, public procurement and the internal market apply to SGEIs. The guide provides simple and comprehensive answers to the most frequent questions asked by public authorities, service users and providers and other stakeholders.

As part of the Social Investment Package announced on 20 February 2013, the Commission has published a staff working document, 3rd Biennial Report on Social Services of General Interest. This report is a further step in providing clarity and guidance to public authorities and service providers, helping them implement the new rules in a correct way, making it easier, more cost-effective and safer to invest in social services.