Communication. Implementing the Community Lisbon programme. Social services of general interest in the European Union

Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2006
ISBN 92-79-01944-9
EC KE-76-06-017-EN-C
Content Type ,


Modernising social services is one of the most important issues facing Europe today: on the one hand, these services play a vital role in fostering social cohesion; on the other, their transformation and job-creation potential make them an integral part of the Lisbon Strategy. The conclusions of the European Council in March 2006 confirmed this, reiterating that the internal market for services must be made fully operational, while preserving the European social model.

This Communication is a follow-up to the White Paper on services of general interest, which announced a “systematic approach in order to identify and recognise the specific characteristics of social and health services of general interest and to clarify the framework in which they operate and can be modernised”, as reiterated in the Social Agenda and the Community Lisbon programme. Following the vote in Parliament on the first reading of the proposal for a Directive on services in the internal market on 16 February 2006, the Commission excluded health services from the field of application of its amended proposal. It undertook to present a specific initiative and is now giving thought to this subject. Consequently, this Communication does not deal with these services. In its amended proposal for a Directive on services in the internal market the Commission excluded "social services relating to social housing, childcare and support of families and persons in need" from the scope of the Directive. It is now the responsibility of the European legislator to finalise the legislative process. This Communication should be seen in the context of the shared responsibility of the Community and of the Member States for services of general economic interest, established by Article 16 of the EC Treaty. It is the result of close consultation with the Member
States and civil society organisations, which has allowed the Commission to conduct an initial survey of the issues at stake and the relevant questions. The Commission strongly wishes to pursue this open process of consultation and reflection through the following steps as set out in this Communication.

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