• Our work

    Eurodiaconia links diaconal actors to examine social needs, develop ideas and influence policies impacting Poverty and Social Exclusion, Social and Health Care Services and the Future of Social Europe.

    Eurodiaconia also provides a platform for transnational networking and best practice sharing.  


  • Our vision

    As the leading network for diaconal work in Europe, we look to develop dialogue and partnership between members and influence and engage with the wider society.  We do this to enable inclusion, care and empowerment of the most vulnerable and excluded and ensure dignity for all.


  • Our goals

    We aim to see a positive social change in Europe through:

    Praxis, enabling membership engagement and partnerships

    Advocacy, creating a network of competence to impact policies at European and national level

    Identity and values, supporting the development of approaches and thinking on Diaconia in Europe today


Calendar Monday, August 31, 2015
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Social services

Eurodiaconia works on many areas related to the provision of social services. Social Services of General interest (SSGI) is the term used to describe social services that are seen to be of importance to the general population. The European Commission has described them as including services provided directly to the person that play a preventive and socially cohesive role, such as social assistance services, employment and training services, social housing, child care or long-term care services.

Eurodiaconia focuses on working to ensure that not-for-profit social and health care providers operate in a supportive environment, where their importance is recognised.

Eurodiaconia monitors the impacts of EU legislation and how it is implemented on the provision of social services in Europe, in particular the impact of EU State Aid and Public Procurement rules, which regulate how contracting authorities can finance social services.

Eurodiaconia members strive to provide quality services and Eurodiaconia has been actively engaged in the EU debate on the quality of social services since 2005. Eurodiaconia has contributed to EU initiatives on quality and has developed its own document on quality.

Eurodiaconia and its members decided to develop one particular elementof these principles, namely service user participation and empowerment. Members felt it was important to facilitate mutual learning and to promote these ideas and drew up a toolkit to this effect.

  • Eurodiaconia toolkit for user participation and empowerment in social services, available in English , French and German (2010).

Debate examines what makes social services innovative?

This week Diakonie Deutschland invited stakeholders to a discussion on innovation in social services, chaired by Eurodiaconia’s Secretary General, Heather Roy. This was held in the context of the development of a new EU programme for social change and innovation due to come into effect January 2014. In the discussion, many questions were raised, for example, on the selection of criteria for ‘innovation’, the transferability and importance of context, how to measure outcomes and finally, how to define social innovation.

The approach the Innoserv project have decided to take is to speak of ‘innovation in social services’ (instead of social innovation) as it narrows down the concept to the ‘services’ provided. This is all the more relevant as researchers at Innoserv found that most innovation occurs within already existing forms of service provision. You can find a comprehensive overview of the seven core areas that they have identified as central to innovation in social services here.

Diakonie Hamburg presented a project, which did not start with the intent of ‘social innovation’, but with the aim to change societal perceptions of people with disabilities. The project ‘selbstverständlich freiwillig’ encourages people with disabilities to become volunteers in their community. This can take various forms, such as walking dogs or reading to elderly people. According to the speaker, over the past years and since their project started, agencies for voluntary work are now increasingly including people with disabilities in their teams of volunteers.

In response to a question on the transferability of such a project, the speaker from Diakonie Hamburg argued that they were lucky with timing, as it was the European Year of Volunteers when they launched the project and 'active inclusion' has been a popular concept among German policy makers for a while. Therefore, there is a strong interest to adopt such a project approach elsewhere in Germany. 

You can find more information on various projects that could be socially innovative (for you to decide) on the website of Innoserv

Eurodiaconia Visegrad platform examines NGO leadership and development

19 September 2013

Eurodiaconia members from the Visegrad region gathered in the Czech Republic on the 12 and 13 September to share experiences and hear from guest speaker Pat Brown talk about leadership and developing an NGO's finance, services and staff. Over 20 years, Pat Brown, Executive Director of the NGO Vision Forward Agency in the U.S., grew it from working with 300 blind/visually impaired people to 6000 and the fundraising from 100,000$ per year to 3.8 million.p b

Pat Brown presented six points that in his opinion help build a great organisation. Firstly organisations need funding and service diversification, including profit-making social enterprises which can subsidise other services. Secondly, there should be a move from measuring numbers to outcomes of services and it is key to tackle the root cause of issues service users face, such as prejudices by employers.

Thirdly, organisations should value employees through staff development and job flexibility, helping them do as much work that they are passionate about as possible. Fourthly, specoifically on social enterprise, the perspective should be first business-oriented, then social, to ensure a project’s viability. Fifthly, use cheap marketing and develop use of social media to promote the organisation. Finally, he focussed on fundraising, stressing the need for an overall strategy, motivated volunteers, relationship building with donors and linking events to the mission of the organisation and builiding contacts with service users. He also outlined some tools to ensure managers build up employees and provide a good working environment.

Romana Belová, from the Eurodiaconia Board, and Laura Jones, from the secretariat presented Eurodiaconia and gave an update on recent activities and meetings to come. The meeting ended with a gathering of representatives from the visegrad country representatives, sharing news and updates.

For more information please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or from the meeting's host organisation, the Diaconia of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren.

EU Parliament committee agrees new rules on public procurement

12 September 2013

At the end of last week the European Parliament Committee responsible for leading the Parliament's position on the new directive on public procurement has approved the compromise text developed in negotiation with national governments. The text must now be passed by the whole Parliament in plenary and the vote is scheduled before the end of the year. It is not expected that the text would be amended. It will replace the current legislation which governs how public authorities contract social and health services across the EU.

Some major changes can be found in the new text compared with the legislation currently in force. 

There is a “light” regime for social and health services (among others), which means that there are less demands on public authorities that want to award contracts for these services. There is also a clearer recognition of the special characteristics of social services and a stronger emphasis on the special nature, quality and affordability of social services, which Eurodiaconia and partners also actively promoted. The text states: “Member States are free to determine the procedural rules applicable as long as such rules allow contracting authorities to take into account the specificities of the services in question”, as long as “contracting authorities comply with the principles of transparency and equal treatment of economic operators”.

The introductory text also refers to the Voluntary European Quality Framework for Social Services, and the legislation states “Member States shall ensure that contracting authorities may take into account the need to ensure quality, continuity, accessibility, affordability, availability and comprehensiveness of the services, the specific needs of different categories of users, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, the involvement and empowerment of users and innovation.”

 There is also a higher threshold below which public procurement rules need not apply, given that they are usually seen as not being of interest to providers from other countries, EUR 750 000. The outocme of one key issue, which Eurodiaconia was working with partners to promote, is unclear from the text. First messages from the Parliament were that government authorities can no longer award contracts based only on price, but it will always be the “most economically advantageous tender”. However the way the text is worded means that it is unclear as to whether this is the case, and opinions are being sought as to the implications of the wording. A legal reading of the text is also being carried out by the Parliament's services to check that it contains no contradictions or mistakes.

For more information see the European Parliament's website here and the text as agreed can be found here. Once the directive has been passed by the Parliament Eurodiaconia will publish a full briefing explaining the relevant elements for Eurodiaconia members and how contracts with public authorities could change.

European Parliament and member states agree to scrap possibility to award public contracts based solely on lowest price

26 June 2013

The European Parliament and member states negotiators agreed today on a text for the new public procurement directive which includes taking out the possibility for public authorities to award contracts based solely on the lowest cost offer for goods and services. Although price can still be a deciding criterion it is felt that this change from the current directive will put additional emphasis on the importance of quality and encourage consideration of social and environmental criteria.

The lead MEP negotiator Marc Tarabella (Belgium, S&D) said, "The criterion of the most economically advantageous tender makes once again quality the central issue and puts an end to the dictatorship of the lowest price. We have also ensured transparency is reinforced in the chain of subcontractors. Rules will be stricter for offers that are abnormally low."

The final text agreed is not yet publicly available and there were a number of last minute proposals to amend the section setting out a light regime for social, health and other specific services including a new section on reserved markets for social enterprises. The secretariat will inform members when more information is available. The text still has to be approved by the Committee leading the work in the European Parliament in a vote in July and by the whole Parlaiment in October but currently no obstacles to its adoption are expected. Once the legislation has been adopted Eurodiaconia will write a briefing for members on what it could mean for their service provision. For more information please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Video message from Jean Lambert MEP following debate on investing in social services

Video message from Jean Lambert MEP following debate on investing in social services despite austerity

21 March 2013

Watch Jean Lambert MEP's video message following the debate that she hosted on investing in social services on the 19th March, co-organised by Eurodiaconia.

What did she think were the most important conclusions from the meeting? How can the European Parliament help encourage governments to take a social investment approach? And finally, what message would she send Eurodiaconia members?



Message from Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament, following debate on investing in social services from Eurodiaconia on Vimeo.

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