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Monday, 07 February 2011

Commission’s “Buying Social” guide: small step for sustainable procurement

The European Commission has launched today the long-awaited “Buying social: a guide to take account of social considerations in public procurement”. A network of trade unions, social and sustainable development organisations considers this guide fails to reflect the true potential of public procurement as an instrument in support of social and sustainable development objectives. Much more is needed if the EU and Member States are to live up to the EU Treaty commitments and international obligations in this field. As a follow-up to the adoption of the Public Procurement Directives, the European Commission (EC) issued in 2004 a “buying green” guide, which allowed contracting authorities to choose between products on the basis of their environmental characteristics. Whilst welcoming the fact that the EC has finally put forward at last its views on social considerations in public procurement, the “buying social” guide launched today puts forward a restrictive interpretation on what is allowed by the Directives. Public authorities are advised by the EC to treat most social considerations as “contract performance” issues, rather than use social considerations to distinguish between offers when deciding to whom to award a contract. This is a missed opportunity to actively encourage authorities to introduce social considerations in public procurement in the context of a proactive approach to sustainable procurement. A comprehensive approach to promoting sustainability would treat the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainable development in an integrated way.

Source: Fair Trade Advocacy Office