Services of general economic interest
Services of general economic interest (SGEI) are commercial services of general economic utility, on which the public authorities therefore impose specific public-service obligations (Article 106 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). Transport, energy and communications services are prime examples.
The Treaty of Lisbon breaks new ground by adding a protocol on services of general interest to the founding Treaties. This protocol, which has the same legal value as the Treaties, specifies the protection to be afforded to SGEI at European level.
The Treaty of Lisbon introduces another innovation. It creates a new legal basis which enables the European institutions to adopt regulations concerning the operation of SGEI. Article 14 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifies that the Council and the Parliament may establish certain principles and conditions relating to the commissioning and financing of SGEI.