The European Commission should show its commitment to sustainability by including clear social criteria in the forthcoming guide on socially responsible public procurement.

The European Commission is writing a guide on social considerations in public procurement, which will be completed by spring 2009. The guide will contain recommendations on how public authorities can buy products and services in a socially responsible manner. Products purchased by public authorities are increasingly produced in developing countries. In many of these countries, wages are extremely low and labour rights are frequently violated. This applies particularly to products we all use, such as garments, electronics and food. Public authorities can contribute significantly to improved working conditions by requiring their suppliers to comply with social standards. The forthcoming EC guide should therefore recommend that products purchased by public buyers are made under good working conditions.

In a letter sent to the Commission today, ProcureITfair has recommended that the commission address the following concerns in the guide:

  • Public buyers should include decent working conditions in the whole supply chain of supplies, services and works as requirements in public purchasing;
  • All suppliers to governments should respect the conventions of the International Labour Organisation;
  • Suppliers to governments should provide full transparency with regard to working conditions at companies they do business with;
  • Public buyers should avoid purchasing products and services from companies that violate human rights;
  • Public buyers need to ensure that products are recycled in a sustainable manner after end of use;
  • Public purchasing should not lead to unreasonable pressure on wages, working days and lead times in supply chains.

“The EC guide on social considerations in public procurement needs to provide useful guidance on how to spend taxes responsibly. The guide needs to explain what public authorities should do to ensure that the products they buy have been made under decent working conditions, in Europe or elsewhere in the world.”, Bart Slob from SOMO said today, as spokesperson for ProcureITfair.

Apart from these recommendations, the NGO coalition asks the commission for a more transparent consultation process. Until now, civil society organisations, trade unions, government representatives and business associations have not had the opportunity to comment on the draft version of the guide. Comments can be submitted.

Further information:
Contact: Tim Steinweg (SOMO – Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations),

ProcureITfair is a coalition of civil society organisations from various European countries raising awareness on the working conditions and environmental pollution in the production of computers and asks politicians and public purchasers to use their (buying) power to demand compliance with international labour rights and ecological standards in the global supply chain of computers.

This press release is part of the ProcureITfair project cofinanced by the European Union. The contents are the sole responsibility of the consortium of NGOs in ProcureITfair and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

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