The mid-term review of the state aid rules on services of general economic interest provides an opportunity to assess and simplify rules for local authorities by keeping administrative, legal and financial burdens to a minimum.
EUROCITIES has just issued a new statement on state aid and local public services. Our aim is to contribute to the mid-term review of the state aid rules on services of general economic interest (SGEI). We argue that this review provides an opportunity to assess and simplify rules for local authorities by keeping administrative, legal and financial burdens to a minimum. This is essential given the financial pressures currently faced by the public sector and the need for smarter use of human and financial resources.
In our statement, we recommend that state aid rules:
• better match public procurement rules
• are simplified and more proportionate to the nature and size of local public services
• are more flexible so that local authorities can choose the most appropriate form of service provision (for instance direct, in house, concession or procurement)
• ensure the legal certainty and predictability needed for the provision of high quality public services
• keep reporting requirements to a minimum
We also argue in our statement that the exemption of social housing from state aid notification in the so-called Almunia package is welcome in principle. However, we do not agree to the restriction of access to social housing to “disadvantaged citizens or socially less advantaged groups” as stipulated in the package. This contradicts the subsidiarity principle and the local right to define, organise and finance services of general economic interest, such as social housing. Focusing only on low-income groups limits social cohesion, as it can prevent social mixing, and it also limits the integration of refugees.
We also request more supportive instruments from the European Commission: in addition to the interactive information service, which is a useful tool, we would welcome trainings in all EU languages for city officers on how to deal with state aid rules, to be organised by the European Commission. Similar trainings were provided during the state aid modernisation process.
Please find our full statement at the link provided.