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EU Law after Lisbon$
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Andrea Biondi, Piet Eeckhout, and Stefanie Ripley

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644322

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644322.001.0001

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Writing Straight with Crooked Lines: Competition Policy and Services of General Economic Interest in the Treaty of Lisbon

Writing Straight with Crooked Lines: Competition Policy and Services of General Economic Interest in the Treaty of Lisbon

Chapter:
(p.347) 17 Writing Straight with Crooked Lines: Competition Policy and Services of General Economic Interest in the Treaty of Lisbon
Source:
EU Law after Lisbon
Author(s):

José Luis Buendia Sierra

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644322.003.0017

This chapter analyses the impact of Treaty changes in the areas of competition and of services of general economic interest (SGEIs). These changes may seem limited at first sight but they have nevertheless attracted a certain degree of controversy. The non-inclusion of competition among the objectives of EU was considered by some as a dangerous development. However, a careful analysis rather suggests the contrary: after Lisbon competition indirectly becomes an EU objective through its explicit link with the internal market. This should imply a stronger role for competition in the definition of EU policies. Moreover, the explicit recognition of competition as an instrument of the internal market may have an impact on the way competition policy is applied, reversing the recent tendency to link competition policy exclusively with efficiency considerations. As regards SGEIs, Lisbon has introduced a new legal basis in Article 14 TFEU allowing the Parliament and the Council to establish the principles under which SGEIs should operate. This provision is not without paradoxes. First of all, it makes clear that it does not create an EU competence for SGEIs but fails to explain the need of a legal basis without an EU competence. The most likely explanation would be to see it as a possible instrument to limit the application of existing EU rules to SGEIs. However, the new provision is surrounded by so many caveats (for instance, it is without prejudice to state aid and competition rules) that it would be difficult to find a viable use.

Keywords:   EU competition policy, services of general economic interest, SGEIs, EU competence

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