Shaping a framework for future-proof Social and Healthcare Services:
A Contribution of the Churches and Church Organisations
Churches and church-related Organisations, such as Caritas and Diaconia, are major providers of social and healthcare services in the European Union. In a Dialogue Seminar with the European Commission they underlined their particular commitment to provide social and healthcare services in order to serve European citizens and the common good of the EU.
In accordance with a long-established practice, the European Commission, together with the Church & Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Secretariat of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) organised on Wednesday 18 October 2006 a Dialogue Seminar on “Social and Healthcare Services: a Contribution of the Churches and Church Organisations to the European Social Model”. The meeting gathered some 50 participants representing the European Commission, the European Parliament, European Churches and church-related organisations.
The seminar focused on the current discussion on the Services Directive in the European Parliament (second reading) as well as the recent Communication on Social Services and the ongoing Consultation on Healthcare Services of the European Commission. Officials of the Commission outlined the contents of these initiatives and Heide Rühle (MEP) reported on the discussions in the European Parliament
The Churches and Church-related organisations recalled that their activities as social and health care providers represent a crucial part of their identity. Therefore they reiterated their support for the exemption of healthcare services from the scope of the Services Directive. They assumed that social services provided by Churches and church-organisations would fall under the exemption clause of Social Services in the Services Directive.
With regard to the ongoing discussion of the Commission’s initiatives, the participants stressed the difficulty of separating social services from healthcare services, and rather support a holistic approach. The Churches expect from these initiatives that they concentrate as much on the quality of services as on the financial sustainability. They ask the Commission to take ethical criteria into account when developing future policies.
Churches, Caritas and Diaconia welcomed the invitation of the European Commission to contribute to the ongoing Consultations on the basis of their particular experience and competence.
The Church and Society Commission (CSC) is one of the commissions of the Conference of European Churches (CEC). The CSC links CEC’s some 125 member churches from all over Europe and its associated organisations with the European Union’s institutions, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO and the UN (on European matters).
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) is made up of Bishops delegated by the twenty-two Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union. Its permanent secretariat monitors and analyses the political process of the EU, informs and raises awareness in both church and society of the development of EU policy.