European competition law has been developed over the years to overcome these fears and provide legal guidelines for fair implementation of business practices.
The European Union authority believes that open competition in Europe is important as it results in lower prices and also increases the choice for consumers across Europe. Competition within European Union is regulated by the European Commission, along with national competition Authorities. (Goyder : 2003). A fair set of norms has been evolved to include action to be taken against business practices which restrict competition, monitor mergers to ensure that these are not designed to reduce fairness and open competition in previously state run monopolies.(Lowe : 2004) The European Union has set out a very transparent competition policy, which is easily accessible. This paper attempts to examine the issues set forth in the European Competition policy as it affects growth of monopolies particularly that of public service providers.
Services of general economic interest have been identified as those market services which discharge broad interest tasks and are therefore subject to specific obligations related to public service in respective member states. These services need to be of a universal nature such as postal and telecommunications services. It is therefore essential that these function effectively to provide continuous and responsive facilities to the community. These also have to be at an affordable price. Thus Article 16 of the Treaty has specified that these services, "Without prejudice to Articles 73, 86 and 87,
and given the place occupied by services of general economic interest in the shared values of the Union as well as their role in promoting social and territorial cohesion, the Community and the Member States, each within their respective powers and within the scope of application of this Treaty, shall take care that such services operate on the basis of principles and conditions which enable them to fulfill their missions."
The European Commission has a duty to ensure that these services are supported and duly fostered and that these are not subjected to the likely impact of markets which are open to competition and thus which act beyond the purview of public interest. (Whish: 2003). The European Commission has three main objectives which govern the functioning of the services of general economic interest these are to ensure that these function efficiently, that those which are not within the purview of SGEIs are not classified as such and that it does not have any adverse impact on markets which are open to competition but out side the ambit of public services. (Non Paper : 2002).
Classification of the SGEIs has to be made very carefully to ensure when applied to services which are operated by private operators these are intended to meet an individual's general requirements and not a specific category of consumer. There has been a monetary ceiling which has since been laid down of payments of up to 30