Public services’ providers and providers of Services of General Interest (SGIs) represent today approximately 500 000 entities that employ over 30% of workforce and account for 26% of EU GDP. The daily services they provide are critical to citizens’ daily life but also to every economic activity. They are extremely varied in terms of size, shape, legal status (public, private, mixed), field of activity (water, energy, telecommunication, public health, postal services, transport…), resources (financial or staff-related), context (administrative or practical constraints), etc.
Within this quite diverse landscape, Local Public Services Enterprises (LPSEs) play a specific role. In 2010, the CEEP study Mapping of Public Services indicated that 51% out of all enterprises providing SGIs are of very small to medium size (18% being micro-enterprises, 16% small enterprises, and 17% medium-size companies), a big share of which could thus be considered as LPSE. As small-scale, grassroot structures deeply rooted in their local environment, they often prove to be much closer to European citizens, are better aware of their needs and expectations than many other stakeholders and therefore they are a key element to any public policy in this area. They fulfil important tasks, for example by creating, maintaining or developing socio-economic “ecosystems” vital to local communities and to local businesses. But they also bear the inconvenience of their particular position and, for example, regularly have even scarcer resources at their disposal (both financial and human) than many other public sector bodies who carry out similar missions. LPSEs thus illustrate well both the ambition and the difficulty of building European policies that consistently deal with the general interest that public services serve and are meant to serve.
Such difficulty finds another example in the very fact that nothing today provides for a consistent or even harmonised legal notion of LPSE at EU level. This makes it impossible for EU institutions, starting with the European Commission as executive body, to even conceive a public policy that would efficiently support the work of LPSEs by taking the specificities of their situation into account. CEEP intends to address this gap with this campaign that encourages LPSE professionals to give evidence about their reality, their needs and possible solutions to the challenges they face.
This study is concretely divided into two distinct questionnaires which address similar questions whilst focusing on the respective positions of entreprises and undertakings and of local and regional authorities.