At a conference in Brussels on 28 January, French providers of Social Services of General Interest (SSGI) have called for clarity over the Lisbon Treaty’s provisions concerning the sector, particularly regarding regulatory limits to opening up social services to competition.
The Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions, together with an alliance of 15 French federations of social service providers released a report on the state of affairs regarding SSGIs in the light of the Lisbon Reform Treaty.
Looking ahead to the March 2008 Spring Summit, the report calls for a relaunch of a European strategy for social services of general interest, namely by:
- Defining a European strategy for social services of general interest;
- Clarifying the European framework applicable to social services of general interest, notably regarding member states’ “exclusive and special rights” regarding public regualtion of social services which fall outside the Services Directive, and;
- Identifying areas of tension between conflicting aims of the Treaty “based on the principle that missions of general interest take precedence over the Treaty rules.”
Also at stake, states the report, is the “credibility of the process begun four years ago” and the “new commitment on SGIs formulated by the Council in the terms of the new Protocol on services of general interest and Article 14 of the Reform Treaty.”