Front cover

Services of General Economic Interest in EU Competition Law - Striking a Balance between Non-economic Values and Market Competition
Series: Legal Issues of Services of General Interest

May 2020 Author: Dr Lei Zhu , Research Associate at the Institute of International Law at Wuhan University, Wuhan, China



  • Published: May 2020
  • Pages: xvii + 312 p., 6 ill. (3 full-colour)
  • Publisher: T.M.C. ASSER PRESS
  • Distributor: Springer

With a foreword by Professor Dermot Cahill, Chair in European Union Internal Market Law & Procurement Strategy, Institute for Competition & Procurement Studies, Bangor University Law School, Wales, United Kingdom

This book provides a comprehensive examination of the interaction between Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) and EU competition law, covering in particular Article 106 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and state aid rules. It also takes the telecommunications, postal service and transport sectors as case studies, taking into account the technological, economic and political backgrounds to these sectors.

The area of SGEI has undergone fundamental developments over the past three decades and the most recent changes in the Lisbon Treaty, recognizing SGEI as a shared value and granting explicit competence to the EU, mark its constitutional significance.

The key issue is how to balance economic values underlying competitive markets and non-economic public service values such as universal access to essential services. The essence of the question is the relationship between the market and the state. This controversial issue is addressed through a critical analysis of a number of landmark EU Court judgments and Commission decisions over the decades.

Offering a clear appreciation of the evolution of the EU regulatory framework on SGEI that lays out the limits and boundaries within which the Member States define, organize and fund SGEI, the book is particularly aimed at academics with a research interest in the interaction between public services and EU competition law, but as it also demonstrates clearly how the application of EU competition law has transformed the public utilities sectors, it will be of interest to law makers, legal professionals and policy makers as well.

Dr. Lei Zhu is a Research Associate at the Institute of International Law at Wuhan University in Wuhan, China. He studied at the Institute for Competition & Procurement Studies of the Bangor University Law School in Wales, United Kingdom, where he obtained his PhD in law in 2015.

Specific to this book:

  • Clarifies the controversy surrounding SGEI by careful analysis of the landmark case law spanning decades
  • Offers a clear picture of the evolution of the EU regulatory framework on SGEI
  • Explains the mechanisms set up by the EU to enable the provision of SGEI without distorting market competition
  • Compares the approaches adopted by different sectors taking into account their technological, economic and political backgrounds