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How to develop services of general interest in the Alps?

Services of general interest (SGI) like telecom connections, energy supply, postal and transport services are of vital importance for mountain and rural areas. In the Alpine area, a Think Tank is making reflections on the future of these services. The Think Tank is led by the Euromontana Board-member Thomas Egger from the Swiss center for mountain regions (SAB) and is composed of 16 experts from all Alpine countries. The Think Tank is part of the work of the Macroregional strategy for the Alpine area EUSALP and is operative since 2016. In 2019, the Think Tank has published a short Thesis paper.

In the Thesis paper, the Think Tank presents 17 points as food for thought. The main point is an integrated, territorial approach to Services of general interest. Up to now, services are mainly dealt with in a sectoral approach. If postal services are reorganized, usually the public authorities and service providers will only look at how to improve these postal services. But potentials for synergies with other services are hardly looked at. In an integrated approach, this vision would change. In an integrated, territorial approach, the competent authorities would first look at the future needs of the service users in the upcoming years. Based on these needs, they would elaborate a territorial strategy encompassing all services in an integrated way and search for synergies between services.

This integrated, territorial approach has already been tested and implemented in the scope of the Alpine Space Program project INTESI. The Thesis paper also contains list of good practice examples and therefore constitutes a good reference also for interested persons outside the Alpine area. In the next two years, the Think Tank will focus mainly on the potentials of digital accessibility to services.

For more information, please read the Thesis Paper of the Alpine Thank Tank on Services of general interest.

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18 May 2020

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