State aid and SGEI
Produced in partnership with CMS
State aid and SGEI

The following Competition guidance note Produced in partnership with CMS provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • State aid and SGEI
  • Leeway of Member States
  • Examples of SGEI based on the Court of Justice’s case law
  • Examples of a manifest error of assessment
  • The Altmark test
  • SGEI Package

The term ‘services of general economic interest’ (SGEI) is not defined in the EU Treaties nor in the secondary legislation. Its concept is laid down in Article 14 TFEU and (especially) Article 106(2) TFEU, which states that undertakings being entrusted with the operation of a SGEI shall be subject to the rules of the TFEU unless these rules would obstruct the performance of the particular assigned task. Moreover, that intra-community trade development must not be effected in a way that is contrary to the EU’s interest.

Additionally, Protocol No 26 to the TFEU mentions the importance of SGEI and especially stipulates the Member States’ discretion when it comes to defining SGEI. This Protocol also explains why SGEI are not defined by the EU: SGEI are not the same in every Member State because of the different needs, which result from the different history, geographical, cultural and social situation. Moreover, the role of SGEI is evolving with technological progress and societal change. Therefore, the Member States are obliged to ensure the quality of SGEIs, their safety and affordability, as well as equal treatment and universal access and of user rights.

The Commission states that SGEI are those activities which—according to public authorities—are of particular importance to the public and would not be supplied (at least not under the same conditions) if the state did

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