In a Communication on Social Services of General Interest (SSGI), the Commission has defined what it understands by the term and outlined its position. The paper does not deal with health services, nor does it contain any policy initiatives.
SSGI make up an already important and – due to the ageing population – growing part of European economy. Their financing is one of the biggest challenges EU countries are facing, and it is the major obstacle to realising the sector’s gigantic potential for growth. As a result of demographic developments already clearly visible in projections, it is unlikely that this growth potential will ever be realised. The risk is rather that per capita investment in SSGI will decrease, with major consequences for the way western societies are structured and consequently also for European lifestyle as we know it.
Under the treaties, SSGI are subject to provisions dealing with general interest, which stipulate that Internal Market rules, for example on competition, may not impede activities in the interest of the community as such.