Europe: Further evidence on the threat to the quality of public services

(July 2012) Privatisation of public services brings together a number of studies carried out between 2007 and 2009 that examined the impact of privatisation and liberalisation on public employment, productivity and the quality of public services.

The "PIQUE" project recognised that public services throughout Europe had undergone dramatic restructuring processes as a result of liberalization and privatization. However, evaluations of these changes had focused on more prices and notions of "efficiency", and much less attention had been paid to the impacts on employment, labour relations, and working conditions.

This book helps to fill this gap and provides data and case studies to reveal the increasing private and foreign ownership of public services, the decentralization of labour relations which has put pressure on wages, and the fall in employee numbers. The resulting increase in workloads may have improved productivity but the research raises questions about data on productivity in the public services and suggests that potential increases in productivity have been partly at the cost of service quality.

The book looks at diverse public-service sectors including network industries, public transportation, and hospitals providing a unique picture of the changes created by the liberalization processes in Europe, with a focus on Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland Sweden and the UK.

Information about the book can be found here while many of the country and sector reports from the PIQUE project are still available on the project website.

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