The ninth EPRC webinar of 2022, and the third in the new academic year, was held on December 14th (11:00 – 12:00 UK) over Zoom. Professor Alois Humer, from the Department of Geography and Regional Research of the University of Vienna, presented on the topic “The EU’s Rediscovery of ‘Services of General Interest’ in Times of Crisis?”.
Humer explained Services of General (Economic) Interest SG(E)I (e.g transportation, energy, water, waste) have formed a constitutive part of the European Union’s policy agenda since the early days – the Treaty of Rome in 1957. SGI are regarded to co-enable the grand European ideas of forming a single market as well as promoting a European model of society. Railway, road, energy and telecommunication networks across borders are considered to be Services of General Interest. Alike, on the side of Social Services of General Interest SSGI, education and health care services provide a foundation for people’s decent daily life.
Humer argued that for a long time after 1957, SGI did not receive much attention in the realpolitik of the EU. This changed during a liberalisation agenda of economic-technical services during the 1990ies and a counter-agenda of securing the (public) provision of social services in the 2000s. Remarkably, the attention for SGI has been high during continental times of uncertainty and crises while it diminished during prosperous times. The current geopolitical, economic, and health crises in Europe give reason to re-discuss the potential and limits of SGI provision from a European perspective.
Alois Humer is a Professor of Geography and Regional Research at the University of Vienna. Before that, he was a research fellow at Aalto University in Espoo/Helsinki. He is active in the European Association of Schools of Planning (AESOP), the Regional Studies Association (RSA), the European Regional Science Association (ERSA) and other European research communities. He joins research teams in Interreg and ESPON projects and serves as senior expert for the European Commission/ DG Regio. His work has been published in key journals such as European Planning Studies and Regional Studies. Thematically, regional centre-periphery disparities, the geography of welfare and, consequently, regional policy and planning responses thereon form part of his interest. Recently, he co-edited a volume on “EU Cohesion Policy and Spatial Governance”, published by Edward Elgar in 2021.
Future EPRC webinars will delve into sustainability, regional policy and development topics.
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