A Proposal for Quality Assurance Principles in Europe

As the new college of European Commissioners take on their roles, the European Social Network requests that the European Commission starts a review of this framework.

It is almost a decade since EU member states agreed with the European Commission a voluntary framework for social services quality. As Katarina Ivankovic-Knezevic, the European Commission’s director for social affairs, observed at the opening of the 27th ESSC, “quality of social services has come to be seen as being of equal importance to their availability and is something that runs through all 20 principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights”.

A cross-cutting element across the 20 principles of the Pillar is the provision of support to different vulnerable population groups as suggested by ESN ahead of the adoption of the Pillar. Having a guarantee to care for those who need it is the first step to ensure quality in social services and social care. Including the Care Guarantee in the review would do that and complement other European initiatives like the Recommendation on Investing in Children, the Youth Guarantee, initiatives on long-term care and the European Disability Strategy.

But this review is about so much more. We are requesting a more proactive approach to improving quality of care that enables more people across Europe to exercise their rights to social care and support.

And the review would do much more:

  • It would help update the overarching elements that should be included in any effective quality assurance schemes.
  • It would help to agree a set of common current principles that would be useful to the organisations that develop and use quality assurance schemes, and the individuals that commission and purchase their own services, to have a better understanding of the characteristics they should be seeking in a quality service.
  • It would provide a point of reference for comparing or developing quality assurance schemes in European countries.
  • By focussing on the principles that underpin any robust quality assurance scheme, the review can help regulators across Europe assess the merits of different approaches to assuring quality.

ESN acknowledges that the social services quality framework developed by the European Commission in 2010 already recognises a series of key human rights quality principles.

However, the social services landscape in 2020 is not the same as it was 10 years ago. Therefore, ESN proposes that the review focuses on elements that have evolved or that would be beneficial for overall quality assurance in the current and future social services context.

Our report STRIVING FOR QUALITY has ESN proposals.