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Der Dritte Sektor in der Europäischen Union: die Daseinsvorsorge aus ökonomischer Sicht

Blankart, Charles Beat and Gehrmann, Björn (2006): Der Dritte Sektor in der Europäischen Union: die Daseinsvorsorge aus ökonomischer Sicht. Published in: Jahrbuch Recht und Ökonomik des Dritten Sektors: RÖDS , Vol. I, No. 2005/2006 (2006): pp. 36-71.

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The third sector can fill an important gap in the provision of services of general interest. Non-profit organizations and enterprises are the main providers of this type of non-market, non-government services. Examples from health care, social services, education, culture, leisure and even public infrastructure such as water supply underpin this observation. The theory of services of general interest also shows how the third sector can be organized. Depending on the service in question, efficient organization should be based on the principle of proportionality and requires a choice between competition, monopoly and regulation. Regulatory preconditions for a healthy development of the third sector in the EU are in place. However, the third sector is growing at a slow pace. This fact is due to both political and economic causes. The institutions of the EU have little interest in the third sector. It fits badly into the re-regulation efforts of the European Commission and is not part of the electoral calculus in the Council and European Parliament. National governments and EP parties compete for voters in their home country and are therefore more interested in a regulation oriented towards monopoly power than in a tailor-made design of third sector solutions. However, the balance of power within the EU is shifting. Regulatory innovations such as the provision of services of general interest by the third sector and its non-profit organisations and enterprises will hopefully benefit from this trend.

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