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Financing services of general interest in compliance with EU rules

28/01/2011 A woman handing a file with the EU flag on the cover

New guide to help public authorities to provide high quality and efficient services of general interest.

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 another guide to help public authorities to buy goods and services in a socially responsible way in line with EU rules.