Public services – known in the European Union as services of general interest (SGIs) and services of general economic interest (SGEIs) – are vital to everyone. They have a decisive influence on the quality of people’s lives, and are essential for social, economic and regional cohesion in Europe. For this reason the ETUC regards universal access to services to be a fundamental right.
The broadest definition of SGIs covers everything from water, energy supply and waste disposal, to healthcare and social services, education and postal deliveries. These services cannot be governed merely by commercial, free-market rules, because this would mean the weakest and most needy would always lose out.
The ETUC believes that services in the EU need a strong regulatory framework to ensure continuity of supply and fair access for everyone. They must be of the highest possible standard, and therefore subject to democratic control involving both consumers and workers in these crucial sectors.