EU social services glossary
CEN – European Committee for Standardisation (Comité Européen de Normalisation)
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is a business facilitator in Europe, removing trade barriers for European industry and consumers. Through its services it provides a platform for the development of European Standards and other technical specifications. The CEN has started working on a Common Quality Framework for Social Services in the framework of the PROMETHEUS project. >> More
Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (DG EMPL)
The Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (DG EMPL) is a the department of the European Commission which has the task of contributing to the development of a modern, innovative and sustainable European Social Model with more and better jobs in an inclusive society based on equal opportunities. This Directorate plays a key role in faciliating policy work and exchanges on social services at EU level. >> More
EQUASS is a European quality framework developed by a European NGO called the European Platform for Rehabilitation (also leader of the PROMETHEUS project). EQUASS was originally developed to assess quality in disability and care services. This quality framework is based on 9 quality principles. >>More
EU quality framework on social services of general interest
In the 2007 Commission Communication on “Services of general interest, including social services of general interest: a new European commitment” refers to the need to support the development of an EU voluntary quality framework providing guidelines on the methodology to set, monitor, and evaluate quality standards in social services. This would be a non-binding and voluntary framework which could guide national and local organisations (services, public authorities, service users) when looking beyond their country borders. The Social Protection Committee started working on this in 2009.
European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM)
The European Foundation for Quality Management is a non-profit membership foundation that seeks to support organisations in their need to implement strategies. Today, EFQM's network encompasses over 600 organisations. These enterprises work together to improve their capabilities in understanding and implementing what delivers higher performance. To this end,the EFQM has developed an EFQM Excellence Model, a framework which is used as a tool for quality assessment, and which aims to deliver a picture of how well an organisation compares to similar or very different kinds of organisation. This model is widely recognised in Europe, and is also sometimes referred to in EU debates on quality assessment in social services. >> More
Homeless service providers
Homeless service providers generally provide accommodation services (eg. emergency shelters, temporary hostels, supported or transitional housing) and non-residential services for homeless people (eg. outreach services, day centres, advice services, health services, employment/training services). These services aim to find adequate and integrated solutions to prevent people from entering a chronic cycle of homelessness.
Interactive Information Services (IIS)
In November 2007, the Commission announced the creation of an interactive information service, handling questions on the application of Community law to services of general interest (services covering such essential daily realities as energy, telecommunications, transport, radio and television, postal services, schools, health and socials services, etc). This initiative was taken in response to a demand for more practical information and legal guidance on the impact of Community rules on services of general interest, and namely on social services of general interest which require further clarification.>> More
Open method of coordination (OMC)
For policy areas where the European Union cannot adopt European legislation (i.e. areas which remain the responsibility of national governments), there are methods used to promote cooperation between EU countries. The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is one of these methods. The OMC provides a new framework for cooperation between the Member States, whose national policies can thus be directed towards certain common objectives. Under this method, EU countries are evaluated by one another (peer pressure), with the Commission's role is limited to monitoring and facilitating exchanges. The OMC is used in policy areas which are developed at national level such as employment, social protection, social inclusion, education, youth, vocational training. The EU strategy for social protection and social inclusion uses the OMC.
The PROMETHEUS project is funded under the Open Call for Proposals VP/2008/004 on “Promoting quality of Social Services of General Interest”. The aim of the project is to develop, validate and pilot the cross-sectoral and trans-national application of the European Quality in Social Services (EQUASS) system. The objectives of the PROMETHEUS project include the following: 1. To review and validate the Quality Principles and criteria of EQUASS with a wide range of European and national sectoral stakeholders in the field of social services (via a CEN workshop agreement). 2. To pilot and modify the EQUASS system taking into account the specificities of different major social services sectors: Services to people with disabilities, Services to homeless people, Long-term care to elderly and dependent people, and Child care services. The project will be implemented by a consortium of partners led by the European Platform for Rehabilitation. FEANTSA and Casa Ioana (Romanian homeless service provider and member of FEANTSA) are both part of the consortium and will be involved in examining quality standards in homeless services.
Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market [Official Journal L 376 of 27 December 2006] is referred to the “Services Directive”. In order to create a real internal services market by 2010, the 'Services' Directive aims to facilitate freedom of establishment for providers in other Member States and the freedom of provision of services between Member States. It also aims to increase the choice offered to recipients and improve the quality of services both for consumers and businesses using these services. >> More
Services of General Interest (SGI)
Services of General Interest (SGI) can be defined as the basic services that are essential to the lives of people and where the state has an obligation to ensure public standards (to defend the public interest). These cover a broad range of activities linked to big network industries (energy, telecommunications, transport, postal services) but also include vital services at the heart of the EU social protection system (education, health, housing, social services, water and waste management). These are sometimes described as “public services”, as they cover services that have been traditionally linked to the role of the State. However a reality is that a number of these services are nowadays provided by different types of actors. The European Union has generally adopted a functional approach where what matters is which service is delivered, rather than who delivers it. >> More
The Platform of European Social NGOs (Social Platform) is the alliance of representative European federations and networks of non-governmental organisations active in the social sector. In September 2008, the Social Platform published a paper titled '9 Principles to Achieve Quality Social and Health Services' that proposes a starting point for a quality framework. >> More
Social Protection Committee (SPC)
The Social Protection Committee (SPC) was established in 2000 to serve as a vehicle for cooperative exchange between the European Commission and the Member States of the EU about modernising and improving social protection systems. As part of its mandate, the SPC has created a working group to develop an EU quality framework on social services of general interest and will be working on this for the next few years. >> More
Social services of general interest (SSGI)
Social services can be regrouped in two broad types of services, the functions and organisation of which can vary a great deal across the EU: on the one hand, statutory and complementary social security schemes and on the other hand, other services provided directly to the person that play a preventive and socially cohesive role, such as social assistance services, homeless services, employment and training services, social housing, child care or long-term care services. These services play a vital role in our societies and provide an important contribution to the fulfilment of basic EU objectives such as social, economic and territorial cohesion, a high level of employment, social inclusion and economic growth. Social services of general interest are a specific part of services of general interest which also encompass large network industries (energy, telecommunications, audiovisual broadcasting and postal services), water supply, waste management, education or health.