6 children waiting to get on a yellow school bus

Everyone should have access to accessible, affordable, quality public services such as transport, energy, hospitals etc. These are services of general interest and are essential to the daily lives of people.

Public authorities are responsible for ensuring the supply of these services: sometimes they provide the services themselves, in other cases they contract out to a third party supplier. In the EU there is a growing trend towards provision by third parties, which may lead to profit making being the driving force and is leading in some cases to a reduction in the quality, accessibility, availability and affordability of these services.

At the EU level both internal market and competition rules (which should ensure fair competition among economic operators, prevent corruption and promote cross-border service provision across the EU) have an impact on how these services are organised and funded when supplied by a third party.

In 2009 we mapped EU laws on services which showed that universal access to services is not consistently guaranteed across the different sectors and legislations.

We currently work on:

  • We support the campaign “Water is a human right”, a European Citizens’ Initiative that calls on the European Union to guarantee the right to access to clean drinking water through the promotion of water supply and sanitation as essential public services for all.
  • We advocate for the right to access a basic bank account, a service which in our opinion should be considered as a service of general interest.
  • We work specifically on social and health services as they provide essential assistance to all, whether for a long or short term need, covering the main risks of life, such as ageing or sickness, as well as for specific circumstances, such as disability. They are particularly important for people in need of support or care and in vulnerable situations – such as children, people living in poverty and social exclusion, older people and persons with disabilities – and contribute to the well-being of people.
  • We also promote social economy and social entrepreneurship as an inclusive and sustainable form of enterprise whose aim is to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being rather than maximizing profits.