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The implementation and application of the European Public Procurement directive


Public Procurement is often considered to be a pure legal affair, dominated by big law firms and complicated legal considerations. The aim of this EU project “The implementation and Application of the European Public Procurement Directive”, was to provide a practical guide for trade unions for the implementation process of the new EU-Public Procurement Directive. Focus was put on best practices as they offer a good overview of what is legally possible within the still paramount guiding principles of the Directive, namely transparency and non-discrimination. It should also be noted that legally enshrined principles do not mirror reality if there is no control. Therefore, best practices with regard to black and white lists as well as other innovative control mechanisms have been included as an important tool to support the good intentions in the everyday reality of workers in the construction sector. 

Often national governments prefer to take the line of least resistance and opt for a minimum adaptation of national law with regard to the transposition of the Directive. Trade unions are requested to strongly oppose these tendencies and to improve the PP process by formulating quality standards relating to occupational, health and safety issues to be applied by public procurement procedures and to cast them into binding legislation as much as possible. 
Trade unions are in favour of clear, controllable and enforceable rules and thus reluctant to Corporate Social Responsibility, framework agreements or any other non-binding arrangements. The principles proposed by trade unions during the national implementation process should be the following:

  1. the consideration of social aspects when implementing the Directive is a political obligation to be taken up and not only a legal subject matter;
  2. the stipulation of the obligation to respect social aspects is not only in the interest of trade unions but also in the interest of companies which abide by these obligations. Public procurement law is thus an instrument to establish a fair level playing field in order to avoid distortion of competition;
  3. the fight of social dumping is also a political aim in order to reduce the post contract costs borne by society as a whole. The public contractor should take a leading role, especially with regard to: the compliance with and consideration of collective agreements; the establishment of a sound system of industrial relations at all levels and the use of public procurement as a lever to ensure that younger worker receive the opportunity of fair training.

The brochure aimes to assist the national trade unions in the national debates as to the implementation and application of the recently adopted Public Procurement Directive. Since the European legislators agreed upon several ground breaking social considerations in the PP Directive, the involvement of workers’ concerns in the debate is crucial.