Public interest

From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

PUBLIC INTEREST - refers to values that are common and important for the whole of society, such as justice, freedom, security, peace, independence and sovereignty of the state, public health, maintaining the financial balance of the social security system, protection of consumers, recipients and employees, fairness in commercial transactions, combating fraud, protection of the natural and urban environment, animal health, intellectual property, social and cultural policy goals and protection of national historical and artistic heritage, citizens' trust in authorities, human and citizen rights. The term publ. int. is often identified with the concept of "common good". It always refers to a general, indefinite number of people, and does not refer to an individual interest or a specific group. Pub. int. is exemplified by the values indicated by the basic law of a democratic state, such as: respect for freedom and justice, cooperation of authorities, social dialogue, preservation of the inherent dignity of man, his right to freedom and the obligation of solidarity with others, respect for life, physical integrity, private property, as well as family privacy, freedom of action in public space, freedom to enter into contracts and to form associations provided that their voluntariness is fully respected, and religious freedom. Publ. int. involves the well-being of the entire society recognized and protected by the government and its institutions, taking into account the objective needs of the general public or local communities. Often political will - the manifestation of government - determines what is in the public interest. Understanding publ. int. is reflected in applicable law. Publ. int. is well protected if society bestows upon public officials a high degree of trust and knows that personal interests of a public servant are not in conflict with his public responsibilities. Transparency of the decision-making process, including balancing conflicting interests, is of key importance in publ. int. From the 1920s, publ. int. is considered the foundation of democratic governance and is expressed in the fact that those working in the public sphere perform their duties in the interest of the state and society, and not in the private interest. The term "public interest law", commonly adopted in the United States during the New Left's social protests in the 1960s, meant that lawyers, instead of representing corporate interests, decided to be spokespersons for under-represented and vulnerable social groups. There are four types of publ. int. concepts. The first type, the axiological concept, involves binding publ. int. with values and means that the term publ. int. sets the scope and content of values recognized by a given community as deserving of protection, regardless of individual beliefs of individuals. It sets the limit of admissible interference of public authority in social and economic relations as well as in the freedom of citizens, understood as the limit of freedom of individual activity. In the second type, the praxeological concept, the basis for determining public interest is the category of purpose, while the third concept binds publ. int. with needs - the basis of this concept is formed by socially determined needs. And finally, there are mixed concepts of publ. int. (hybrid) - e.g. Marian Wyrzykowski drew attention to the relationship between the system of values and the content determined by these publ. int. values; he also examined publ. int. from the point of view of goals, mainly state goals. Mixed concepts also include the concept formed by Eugeniusz Modliński, who preached the supremacy of publ. int. in relation to the interests and needs of the individual. The issue of the relationship between individual interest and public interest is included in theory at least threefold. Firstof all, publ. int. is put above the interests of the individual - the so-called theory of supremacy of publ. int. (it is possible to eliminate minority interests in the process of defining the common good). In turn, the theory of common interest refers to the interests of individuals and assumes the aggregation of all individual interests while taking into account the interests of minorities. The third concept, the theory of unity, assumes that publ. int. is based on the rivalry of claims, but based on certain common values that are recognized in societies and form the basis of public authority decisions. Nowadays, it is believed that publ. int. cannot be arbitrarily attributed to superiority gains, because both individual and public interest must be balanced in every situation. According to OECD, the consistent adaptation and observance of common ethical values, principles and norms should be pursued in order to give and maintain priority of public interest over private interest in the public sector. The so-called public integrity is created in this way. [J. Itrich-Drabarek]

Literature: E. Komierzyńska, M. Zdyb, 'Klauzula interesu publicznego w działaniach administracji publicznej', „Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska” sectio G, Ius, 2016, nr 2(63), [online][dostęp: październik 2019] ■ J. Rawls, 'Teoria sprawiedliwości', tłum. M. Panufnik, J. Pasek, A. Romaniuk, Warszawa 1994 ■ A. Żurawik, '„Interes publiczny”, „interes społeczny” i „interes społecznie uzasadniony”. Próba dookreślenia pojęć', „Ruch Prawniczy, Ekonomiczny i Socjologiczny” 2013, nr 2.