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European directive to include social factors in procurement

Contracting authorities may introduce social and environmental considerations throughout procurement, new public directives state.

Now approved by the European Parliament, the directives allow the possibility of introducing a social clause, guaranteeing respect for labour law and collective agreements in the workplace. It could stop contracting authorities from using price as the only criteria when granting a contract.

Veronica Nilsson, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Confederal Secretary, said: “The revised directive on public procurement will allow public authorities to make sustainable choices and make sure that workers rights are upheld.

“Application of public procurement rules affects working conditions of thousands of workers all over Europe and are therefore of key importance to the ETUC and its affiliates. Public procurement must not contribute to a race to the bottom in terms of pay and working conditions.” 

The union GMB also welcomed the move, but cautioned that there was a need for greater clarity in the directive. It warned that the definition of mutual and social enterprises – for which contracts may be reserved – could risk privatisation “through the back door”.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer in Brussels, said: “The new provisions voted today affirm that contracting authorities may introduce social and environmental considerations throughout the procurement stages as long as these are linked to the subject matter of the contract.

“In addition, public authorities can take in to account the process and production methods of goods even if they are not visible in the final product. (as confirmed in recent landmark court judgments). It will be easier for them to rely on labels and certifications as proof of compliance with the sustainability criteria they have set. This way public authorities can give preference to bidders that offer better working conditions to their workers, favour the integration of disabled and disadvantaged workers, and offer sustainably produced goods.

“Importantly, the right for public authorities to provide services directly is confirmed and the concepts of ‘in-house’ and ‘public-public cooperation’ are clarified. Compliance with environmental, social and labour obligations including collective agreements is now enshrined in the principles of this law, and tenderers can be excluded in case of non-respect. The new laws also makes it easier to identify subcontractors along the supply chain, although it will be up to Members States to establish their joint liability.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Digby Barker   18/01/2014 at 15:59

Sorry, no News here ! The 2004 Directive allows for the inclusion of social and environmental considerations.

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