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Public Waste Management Services in the Internal Market – and the Interpretation of Article 106 TFEU

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A matter of current dispute in the German waste-management sector is the extent to which it is permissible under EU law to restrict the market for the recovery of household waste in favour of public providers of disposal services, as is common practice in many member states. This dispute raises fundamental questions as to the relationship between the public provision of services of general interest and European competition and so concerns, in particular, the relevant rules under Article 106 TFEU. In adopting this article, the parties to the Treaty have—as will be shown below—reserved considerable freedom to exempt public services of general interest from competition and the free movement of goods. Whilst their freedom to do so may be limited under secondary legislation providing for an EU-wide competition solution, such legislation must take the form of a targeted liberalisation measure which also lays down the accompanying rules needed to guarantee a universal, reliable and affordable provision of services. The secondary EU waste legislation does not meet this requirement.


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