The remit of the Thematic Study Group on Services of General Interest is to encourage the relevant European and national authorities to guarantee the right of access to good-quality services in the context of sustainable development and social cohesion, and to ensure that this right is backed up by legal and regulatory provisions that define it and establish how it will be applied in each area. Services of general interest (SGIs) are a core component of the European economic, social and legal systems and are a supporting pillar of the European social model and of a social market economy.
There is a clear political and financial responsibility on the part of the public sector to co-ordinate the provision of SGIs. Leaving this purely to market forces is not appropriate. Non-profit organisations and social enterprises in particular have demonstrated their capabilities in providing excellent SGIs.
It has proved a long and complex process to ensure a positive interaction between the large European market and the imperatives of free circulation, free competition, efficiency, competitiveness and economic dynamism on the one hand and objectives of general interest on the other. There have been many successes here, but problems remain to be resolved, as evidenced by the European Pillar of Social Rights.
This community of values offers a range of approaches to organising services of general interest according to country, region and sector. Such a variety of situations presents a challenge for European integration. Nevertheless, far from being an insurmountable obstacle, this is an opportunity to create a framework for serving the general interest in a constantly changing economic and social context, by framing a set of principles applicable to all services of general interest.