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Public Service Review - European Union
Spring 2001

Contents | Foreword

By Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission

I am pleased to introduce Public Service Review: European Union. Europe is undergoing a challenging time. The needs of our citizens are at the heart of the construction of Europe and the European Commission must ensure that it responds to them promptly and efficiently.

As an institution, the European Commission is adapting to these challenges by making the organisation more responsive to civil society and more aware of the necessary improvements in our own efficiency in order to fulfil our mission effectively. Since my Commission took office, Vice-President Kinnock has been pursuing this task with vigour and application.

Under my authority, the Commission is working to improve the process by which Europe takes and implements decisions. The White Paper on Governance, to be published later this year, will be an important contribution to this effort. Clearly, improvements in the performance of the public sector itself will play a key role in the capacity of Europe to deliver. Identifying the scope for such improvements can be promoted by open dialogue between users and suppliers and between the public and private sectors.

Services of general interest make an important contribution to the overall competitiveness of European industry and to economic, social and territorial cohesion. As users of these services, European citizens have come to expect high quality services at affordable prices. Our action in fields such as telecommunications, energy, transport and postal services is directed towards ensuring vigorous competition on open markets, both inside and outside the Community. Provisions on universal service back up competition to ensure that all citizens have access to such services on acceptable terms and that the benefits of liberalisation are widely spread.

Many services are provided by Member States or by local authorities. It is important that they can continue to fulfil their mission of serving the public. The Commission for its part ensures that these services are compatible with the Single Market and competition policy. It also ensures that citizens and tax payers get the best value for their money by requiring open procurement practices for all purchases made with the public purse.

Over the coming years, as the Union enlarges and deepens its action, the need to monitor, debate and assess its activities will become more important. The Public Service Review: European Union should provide a useful forum for that task.

Rt Romano Prodi
President of the European Commission