Social Services of General Interest in the EU context - EPSU reflections, requests and recommendations
(Brussels 10 February 2011) EPSU (the European Federation of Public Service Unions) was invited to speak at a hearing of social partners organised on 25 January 2011 by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament.
EPSU General Secretary Carola Fischbach-Pyttel highlighted EPSU´s expectations and recommendations in view of the legal and quality framework for social services of general interest (SSGI) at European level.
She also made suggestions as to which issues should and could be dealt with and given high priority in the forthcoming own-initiative report of the European Parliament, drafted by MEP Proinsias De Rossa.
EPSU´s main messages
1. EPSU calls upon the relevant bodies in the member states and competent European institutions to make full use of art. 14 TFEU when shaping the legal, policy and quality frameworks for social and health services of general interest. If need be existing strategies and policies in the field of internal market, competition, state aid and public procurement should be adapted to allow for the delivery of quality social services, regulated competition on social markets on a level playing field, quality jobs and decent working conditions.
2. EPSU calls upon the European institutions to develop at EU-level a ‘general interest statute’ as way of strengthening the regulatory framework / criteria, applicable to both social economy and public services providers and accommodating their specificities.
3. EPSU suggests considering enlarging the notion of ‘in-house’ to include service providers who meet specific general interest criteria (building on recent the ECJ case law on inter-municipal cooperation).
4. For EPSU improving the quality of work must be a high priority when implementing the European Voluntary Quality Framework. EPSU insofar considers important to foresee a prominent place to working and pay conditions when developing and implementing policies to ensure and improve the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of SSGI. We would also recommend add a clearer reference to the respect for workers’ rights when implementing and further developing this framework.
5. EPSU suggests giving priority to the elaboration of specific sectoral policies with tangible goals – e.g. EU action plans on elderly/long-term care, care for people with disabilities, mental health, child care (to build on the Recommendation on Childcare, aiming at an implementation of the Barcelona targets) or housing in order to illustrate the potential EU added value of joint work and common quality frameworks at EU-level around SSGI.