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Legal framework



It is key for the financial sustainability of service providers that the EU’s current legal framework regarding public procurement and state aid provides them with clear, sustainable and up-to-date rules and obligations upon which they can base their work. Yet the application of EU rules on these two matters have been highly controversial over the last decade. Social services have often claimed that these rules make it harder to organise and finance services and that they lead to the provision of poor-quality services through liberalisation and privatisation.

As such, in December 2011, the European Commission published a comprehensive package on the matter. The package was introduced by a Communication on “a Quality Framework for Services of General Interest in Europe” which detailed two key documents.

  • Secondly, a proposal for a new Directive on public procurement; which aims at modernising the EU public procurement rules that public authorities have to follow when they decide to outsource their provision to an external provider in return for being paid.

The European Commission followed up on this with a new regulation on General Block Exemptions and a directive on Public Procurement in 2014. In these two areas, EASPD fights to ensure that the legal framework for the funding of social services supports quality and decent jobs in the sector, as well as helps to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In 2018, the European Commission provided clarifications to EASPD about how Member states should apply the EU Public Procurement law. This reply focused on the flexibility that Member states have to apply the Directive in terms of provision of social services and on the (under)use of quality criteria by the Member states. Read the reply of the European Commission to EASPD's questions here

Policy and Briefing Papers


On Public Procurement


On State Aid

Other relevant papers