In last decades public utilities in eu have been at the centre of a great liberalization program. The constant confrontation between national and Community institutions fosters a convergence towards (partially) shared models, which are at times operated from a «top-down» position (by means of Directives and Regulations) and at other times from a «bottom-up» position (by means of mutual sensitisation efforts on both national and Community orientations). However, the confrontation is also complicated by the concerns of national and local Administrations with economic and social aspect of these sectors, making the process swing between the need to guarantee a public service and the aim of establishing a competitive internal market. This paper, focusing on electricity, gas and water sectors, analyses the current stage of the liberalization process, pointing out the gap between formal and substantial liberalization, as well as the institutional dialectic and its spin-offs. As a matter of fact, from an institutional viewpoint, Member States and Commission are still in search of a difficult balance between the Member States’ surrender of their sovereignty and the safeguard of their legacy in terms of a local administration of these sectors. From an economic viewpoint, the liberalization process tends also to make these sectors more similar across the countries than in the countries, inducing to substitute a «sectoral-based» classification for the traditional «national-based» one.