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To deliver on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, good quality social services are key.  That is why ESN is calling for a revamp of the 2010 European Voluntary Framework for Quality for Social Services to be a priority of the next European Commission. The 2010 voluntary framework, agreed by the European Social Protection Committee was the the latest, overarching EU policy fostering quality in social services.

Thirteen years after its adoption, take up is rather limited. Only a minority of EU national governments refer to it in their social services legislation. Some governments even state that it is not useful in their national context, and it remains mostly unknown at sub-national level. Therefore, the European Social Network (ESN) suggests the next Commission should review the framework to improve its relevance and take up. Our working group on Quality in Social Services will provide proposals on how this framework could look.

A revamped framework built on actionable principles and standards

Since 2022 an ESN working group has been developing proposals for a revamped European Social Services Quality Framework that takes account of current social services trends and developments. After assessing key trends in social services quality assurance last year, during 2023 they have been working on the key principles of quality relevant for social services, which will underpin the working group’s proposal for common European social services quality standards. In 2024 and 2025, the Group will define standards and indicators for compliance, in line with the agreed principles.

The framework aims to be a key reference document for:

  • public regulators and quality agencies, which develop new standards
  • those who review existing ones in countries, regions and municipalities across Europe.

Six key principles of quality

The six principles which have been identified by the working group are based on an analysis of existing quality frameworks at national level, group discussions and a questionnaire gathering feedback from organisations based in 17 European countries. These principles will be the foundation for their future proposal for an actionable and effective quality framework:

1.Human Rights based






These principles are designed to assess the quality of a social service. A more extensive description of each of the principles and a comparison with the 2010 framework can be found in this briefing summarising the outcomes of the 2023 meeting of the working group. The principles will guide the future formulation of quality standards, and indicators that will help practitioners measure compliance with the standards.

The upcoming 2025 - 2030 European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan

Through our proposal ESN wishes to support the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, in which access to quality social services is a cross-cutting element. At its upcoming review of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the European Commission should consider quality assurance in social services as a central element. A revamp of the voluntary European Framework on Quality in Social Services should be a key policy action, for which ESN will continue to advocate.

Download the briefing here.