Brussels, 28 January 2011
New guide to help public authorities to provide high quality and efficient services of general interest
This new Guide aims at clarifying the European rules applicable to the organisation and financing of services of general interest. This Guide thus helps public authorities, especially at local level, to provide high quality and efficient services in line with the EU rules.
The Guide provides guidance as to how the Member States may finance services of general interest in compliance with State aid rules. It states clearly that the rules are not about imposing a particular model of the organisation of public services, but about ensuring that the funding provided does not go beyond what is necessary. It answers questions raised by various stakeholders on the entrustment of services of general interest to external providers and on the calculation of the compensation due to these providers.
The new Guide addresses, in a user-friendly manner, the definition of an important terminology such as: service of general interest, general interest or act of entrustment.
The document further explains that public authorities can use public procurement rules and, at the same time, ensure quality, innovation, continuity and comprehensiveness of social services. It also clarifies the conditions under which the provision of social services can be limited to non-profit providers.
Finally, the document provides specific guidance on the application of the Internal Market rules, and of the Services Directive, to social services. It also highlights that the application of this Directive does not prevent Member States from regulating, or from continuing to regulate, social services in order to guarantee their accessibility and quality.
The Commission also published today another guide (IP/11/105) to help public authorities to buy goods and services in a socially responsible way in line with EU rules.
This new Guide is an update of the FAQs on State aid and public procurement published in November 2007. It is largely based on questions received through the Interactive Information Service, which was put in place in January 2008 as part of the Commission clarification strategy on services of general interest.
The update also addresses questions raised by recent Court judgments, the work of the Member States and the Commission within the Social Protection Committee and the Commission services' on-going dialogue with public authorities, organisations representing service users and providers, the European Parliament and other stakeholders.
Guide to the application of the European Union rules on State aid, public procurement and the internal market to services of general economic interest, and in particular to social services of general interest : http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=6458&langId=en
Buying Social: a guide on taking account of social considerations in public procurement : http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=6457&langId=en