Sustainable Public Procurement

Public procurement is estimated internationally to represent 1.3 trillion Euros every year. If these funds are successfully used in such a way to promote sustainable production and consumption, public procurement can be a game changer.

Public procurement is an area of great economic interest. In the European Union, total public expenditure on goods, works and services amounts to approximately 15 per cent of GDP.  While the main focus on the EU level has been on facilitating competition, transparency, non-discrimination and anti-corruption, the last decade has seen a growing recognition of the importance of employing economic drivers to promote overarching societal goals. Next to the objective of increasing the simplicity and flexibility of EU public procurement law, a major aim of the 2014 Procurement Directives of the EU is to enlarge the possibilities for using public procurement in support of broader social and environmental goals.  The EU Commission has defined public procurement as a policy strategic instrument to achieve sustainability, and as an essential contribution to the achievement of EU’s goal of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. 

Public procurement is seen as a driver to stimulate innovation and resource-efficiency, and as an integral part of an industrial policy for a global, low-carbon economy.  Public procurement is also repeatedly mentioned in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

We will investigate the potential for using public procurement for sustainability that has been broadened through the 2014 reform, and analyse the way that this scope has been employed by the Member States. An important goal for us will to identify best practices and procurement guidelines that internalise environmental, social and economic externalities across global value chains, and stimulate a shift towards development-friendly and sustainable business. This will form the basis for reform proposals that can mainstream best practices in public procurement across Europe.