Universal Services: Nucleus for a Social European Private Law

Hans‐W Micklitz

in Market Integration and Public Services in the European Union

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199607730
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725258 | DOI:

Series: Collected Courses of the Academy of European Law

Universal Services: Nucleus for a Social European Private Law

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This chapter demonstrates that the existing EU law, primary Community law as well as the numerous pieces of secondary Community law, meant to privatize former state monopolies, produces elements of a new European private law, which is designed to protect the economically and socially disadvantaged citizen. Understood in this way, universal services may be seen to form an integral part of the European Social Model. The argument is developed in three steps. Part 2 analyzes legal distinctions as conceptual differences. Translated into a private law perspective, this part deals with the possible scope of the law on universal services. Part 3 examines the hybridization of the public/private law divide in universal services. The traditional bilateral concept of private law relations does not work in universal services. It is much more a triangular relationship, where national and European regulatory agencies/networks intervene as intermediaries in the former citizen–state relationship and yield the citizen-consumer as a new social actor. Part 4 looks at the constitutionalization process of universal rights via the economic freedoms and fundamental basic rights enshrined in the Treaty. It suggests that constitutionalization allows for the development of constitutive principles of the law on universal services. Part 5 formulates possible perspectives on the law on universal services, the possibility of its generalization in the field of regulated markets as well as in the non-economic sector of public services where the impact of privatization is still strongly felt.

Keywords: EU law; Community law; state monopolies; European private law; universal services; private law; public law; universal rights

Chapter.  21460 words. 

Subjects: EU Law

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