Horizontal and sectoral approaches as instruments of regional integration. a case study of services of general economic interest in the EU Cover Image

Podejście sektorowe i horyzontalne jako instrumenty integracji regionalnej – na przykładzie sfery rynkowych usług użyteczności publicznej w Unii Euro
Horizontal and sectoral approaches as instruments of regional integration. a case study of services of general economic interest in the EU

Author(s): Jerzy Ząbkowicz
Subject(s): Economy
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Ekonomicznego we Wrocławiu
Keywords: regional integration; horizontal approach; sectoral approach; services of general interest; European Union

Summary/Abstract: The two possible broad EU legislative approaches to achieving more harmonization between Member States are a series of sector-specific directives, or what is called a “horizontal framework Directive” which sets out broad framework principles which apply to all the areas within its scope. The European Commission expresses full conviction that EU legislation must rely to much greater extend on a horizontal approach applying across all sectors as the one giving fresh impetus to regional integration. However, almost all Commission’s decisions to propose a horizontal directive meet with a mixed (or even negative) reception in the Parliament and in Member States as in their opinion a sector-specific legislation better complies with procedures and practices in each country and keeps alive diversity in the Union. Diverging views in the EU about the above approaches and problems with finding a consensus are well reflected in the sector of services of general economic interest being essential for ensuring social and territorial cohesion and for the competitiveness of the European economy. The organization of these services varies according to cultural traditions, the history and geographical conditions of each Member State and the characteristics of the activity concerned. In the common opinion of authorities of Member States the existing sector-specific EU rules take due account of the diversity that characterizes different services of general interest and the situations in which they are provided. They support such an approach as a right way to respect the roles of national, regional and local authorities in ensuring the well-being of their citizens and in guaranteeing democratic choices. The added value of a horizontal framework as compared to the sector-specific approach followed so far has not been demonstrated, they say. That means there is no reason to bestow the European Commission with additional powers. The powers currently conferred on the Community with regard to services of general interest are appropriate and sufficient in order to ensure that well-functioning services can be maintained and developed throughout the Union. According to the European Commission consolidation of the Community acquis should be based on common elements of existing sector-specific legislation. Without prejudice to these rules, a horizontal approach will be considered with regard to a number of specific issues, such as consumers’ interests, the monitoring and evaluation of services of general interest, the application of state aid rules to financial compensation or the use of structural funds for the support of services of general interest. That would help to ensure overall consistency of approach across different services of general interest sectors. As a framework instrument as a basis setting out common objectives and principles would be general in nature and would also have its limitations it should be complemented by sector-specific legislation laying down more

  • Issue Year: 2/2014
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 45-64
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: Polish