Reconceptualising Public Services after Integration: States, Markets and Entitlements in the European Union

Item Reference: 
Publication Date: 
Publication Place: 
Publication Language: 
UNU Insitute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
Series Title: 
UNU-CRIS Working Papers
Working Paper Type: 

Public services are a key facet of everyday life for all citizens and societies, so it is surprising that only scant attention has been paid to the emergence of the new approaches to them in an increasingly integrated EU. We critically examine these new approaches in this article. We show how the twentieth century justifications for public services premised on assumptions about national or local provision underpinned by economic theories are being supplemented at the supranational level by a normative, bottom-up, citizen-centred approach influenced by entitlements theory. We ask whether the EU experience is relevant for other integrated zones and, in the spirit of recent work on global public goods provision, we explore to what extent this entitlements approach to public services may be replicated elsewhere. We then question whether the new approach articulated through the project of a charter or framework directive is sufficiently robust to properly protect public services from the onslaught of competition and market forces and suggest ways of improving the approach prior to any adoption in a new European Constitution.