Services of general interest –

“The term "services of general interest" or, as they are often called in the European discourse, "services of general economic interest" describes the task of the public sector of providing those fundamental goods and services that are essential for the smooth functioning of society. These services include traffic and transport, supply with gas, water and electricity, waste collection, sewage disposal, educational and cultural facilities, hospitals, cemeteries, public baths and swimming pools and similar. All of these services are primarily aimed at ensuring the welfare of the population, not at turning a profit. It is a key concern of the City of Vienna to provide high-quality, adequately-priced services on behalf of its citizens.”

(City of Vienna, 2023)

More on Vienna's services of general interest
Municipal Department 27 - European Affairs (MA 27)

The term "services of general interest" covers all those public services that are particularly important for our daily lives and contribute to the high quality of life in Vienna: these include water supply, wastewater management, waste disposal, health care, social services, public transportation and many more.

In Austria, these services are provided by the federal states, as well as by cities and municipalities. This is not done to maximize profit primarily, instead upholding high quality standards, general accessibility, security of supply and the services’ reliability are prioritized.

All of these services are aimed at securing the well-being of the populace instead of focusing on achieving the greatest possible profit exclusively. This approach guarantees high-quality services for the population at affordable prices.

See what the European Commission has to say about services of general interest 

@WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud

Services of general interest in Vienna

It’s about people, not profits!

Services of general interest have to be one thing above all else: Be reliable! That's why the City of Vienna operates those services herself – and has been criticized for it repeatedly. The record after past global waves of privatizing those services shows though: opposing privatization has been the more sustainable way! Other cities are following suit.

When it comes to services of general interest, quality, affordable prices and reliability are essential. The City of Vienna uses taxpayers' money responsibly, hence Vienna has always resisted calls for privatization of her services of general interest, because the reliability of these services is simply too important to risk experiments by privatizing them.


The fact that Vienna’s services of general interest are run by the municipality guarantees, that people in Vienna drink excellent tap water. It guarantees, that Vienna’s households get the reliable electricity supply they need. The City of Vienna owns and operates one of the best and most affordable public transport networks in the world – if that were to be the case once those services had been privatized is more than doubtful. Last but not least, Vienna's functioning public services ensure that the Viennese can rely on the public healthcare sector and medical treatment. The city itself guarantees all of this because the population deserves affordable services, they can rely on. Private companies on the other hand have no incentives to guarantee affordable, reliable services, their only goal is to generate sufficient profit by running those services.


For the longest time, the supporters of privatization, mostly neoliberals labelled Vienna a brake on the pathway to modernization and prosperity. Has the privatization in these metropolises, that have opted for it, brought modernization and prosperity to the inhabitants though? As a result of privatization, Parisians paid significantly more for drinking water, while in Oslo privatization caused problems within the city’s waste disposal management. After the sale of the London Underground, the price of tickets has risen significantly. Delays became the new normal, even the number of accidents rose drastically. All of those three cities mentioned above have bought back these areas of public services after the experiment of privatization has failed them.


The examples mentioned above are just a few of over 700 examples of the recent trend of remunicipalization of public services in Europe over the last couple of years. International developments show that privatization only brings juicy profits to a few, not to the many. The vast majority of people pay the price for those profits though, which shows that the City of Vienna was right refusing to privatize her services of general interest! If services of general interest are to function smoothly, it is best for a municipality to provide them herself.

Download the study „Remunicipalisation in Europe“ (ÖGPP 2019)

@Wien Energie/Tobias Holzer

Services of general interest make Vienna one of the most liveable cities in the world

So that everyone may live well!

The quality of life in Vienna is higher than in many other cities around the world. Year after year, studies and rankings confirm that Vienna is either the most liveable or among one of the most liveable cities in the world. One of the keys to Vienna’s success: well-functioning services of general interest!


Those surveyed frequently name numerous advantages of Vienna: beautiful, clean, the city offers career prospects, a diverse cultural life and much more. What pretty much everyone agrees on is that those who live here can enjoy life to the fullest. One of the reasons for that is that one does not have to worry about many of the problems and uncertainties of everyday life in Vienna. Waste disposal works reliably, public transport takes you wherever you need to go in the city swiftly, tap water is clean and affordable. Vienna also provides state-of-the-art infrastructure for digital applications and services. Public health care is available to everyone, not just those who could afford it anyway. The city's senior citizens' residences provide care and quality of life for residents in need of care. Last but not least, an environmentally friendly building code ensures that Vienna remains a liveable city for future generations to come.


These were just a few examples of the many services of general interest within Vienna. All these services ensure that Vienna comes out on top in countless studies and rankings. In short: services of general interest are the key to Vienna's success in international rankings comparing cities. It is the backbone of the city, that brings out all the other strengths of a modern metropolis like Vienna. Many Viennese often take this for granted. People from other cities around the world, on the other hand, experience the high-quality services of general interest in Vienna as a luxury and Vienna as a city, which ought to be followed suit.


Vienna’s population benefits from the fact, that Vienna’s high-quality of life is internationally confirmed on a regular basis as well: not only because the Viennese get to live in one of the most liveable cities worldwide, but because studies and rankings are not an end in themselves either. International companies use such international quality of life rankings to decide where to set up new business locations. It is important to them that their employees feel comfortable and can work and live in a well-functioning environment. Regularly achieving top marks in well recognized international city comparison rankings therefore brings Vienna jobs and more economic growth.

Investments by the city in services of general interest therefore pay off twice: They keep Vienna worth living in, but also leads to new jobs coming to the city. The outstandingly high-quality of public services therefor constitute one of the main columns - figuratively speaking - for Vienna’s prosperity and Vienna’s high-quality of life!

Download the study „Remunicipalisation in Europe“ (ÖGPP 2019)

More on Vienna's services of general interest 
Municipal Department 27 - European Affairs (MA 27)

@WienTourismus/Paul Bauer