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52nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regions in Motion - Breaking the Path", 21-25 August 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia
There is quite common understanding of the importance of provision of Social Services of General Interest (SSGI) in the European states. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and several other official documents like green paper and white paper nevertheless guarantee every EU citizen access to and availability of SSGI. Nevertheless, when it comes to share responsibility over the delivery, finance and territorial organization of various SSGI, the approaches and practices within the European states highly differ and reflect in some way the functioning of the welfare states. Taking public service obligation as a starting point does not automatically imply to regard SSGI production and finance a solely public affair. Rather, this is mostly done in some way of public-private governance and investment arrangements, depending on the concrete SSGI and the societal, political choice upon it. The aim of this contribution is to show a systematic analysis of how European states (the EU27 member states, the EES-countries Norway and Switzerland, and the EU accession states Croatia and Iceland) cope with the organization of selected Social Services of General Interest out of the fields of education, care, health, labour market, social housing and social transfer schemes. Compared to Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) like energy, telecommunication and transport, that are widely under the umbrella of European Single Market and therefore subject to international liberalization and privatization, SSGI will allow a clearer picture of European diversity as their politico-territorial organization and public-private finance are still matters of the member states. The results will be based on multivariate statistical analysis, fed from a standardized expert questionnaire. Our aim is to detect similarities and differences of the various national approaches to come to a typology of SSGI organization for Europe. Putting an emphasis on the comparative aspects of the study, conclusions on the organizational and financial effectiveness of the different types will be drawn and an outlook on future politico-territorial organization and public-private finance will be given. Acknowledgement This contribution has been financed by the ESPON applied research project 2013/1/16 Indicators and Perspectives for Services of General Interest in Territorial Cohesion and Development as part of Activity 5 (typologies). The economic support from ESPON is gratefully acknowledged. The content in this paper does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ESPON Monitoring Committee.
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