21.01.2011: How Europe protects social servicesEurope has undertaken to protect social services and the delivery of a particular service for which they are responsible which meets the basic, day-to-day needs of the European public in the area of health, employment, housing, education, training, social protection and social integration. In line with the provisions of the Treaty, Europe ensures that these services function on the basis of principles and under conditions which allow them to discharge their responsibilities.
Europe is underpinned by recognition of fundamental rights and respect for human dignity and integrity, and one of its main aims is to increase social and territorial cohesion and facilitate a high level of employment and social protection.
However, protection of social services, as provided for in the Treaty, can only be activated by the Member States, by their national, regional, departmental or municipal authorities. Protection of social services by Europe is theoretical and conditional: it only becomes effective in Community law if it is explicitly activated by a relevant public authority in a Member State. Definition of the social service as a service of general interest by this competent public authority is the only way of activating protection of social services and the operators providing these services; it is the only basis for protecting them from market forces in practice.