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The concept of "service of general economic interest" (SGEI), which appeared discreetly in the Treaty of Rome, only took its full place in Community law with the Treaty of Lisbon and its Protocol 26.
In the meantime, the European Commission, on the basis of the case law of the Court of Justice, had developed a body of doctrine that sought to articulate the principle of subsidiarity - each Member State organises its "public services" and defines their tasks as it sees fit - with the imperatives of competition, now an exclusive competence of the Union, in a single market. The services of public enterprises, whatever their status, are in fact increasingly provided across borders, whereas States and local authorities are sometimes tempted to ignore this development and continue to favour their own national or territorial "players".
It was high time for a Scientific Symposium to take stock of the situation with the best specialists, both in Community law and in comparative law, on such an important sector of activity: Members of the Court of Justice, senior Commission officials, professors, lawyers and company lawyers thus exchanged their views.
The Council of State, aware of the interest of the subject, has kindly hosted this Colloquium, organised by the Société de législation comparée, and whose proceedings will certainly contribute to the reflection currently underway in Brussels and in the European capitals on the future of service concessions.