Cities discuss innovation and social clauses in public procurement

  • economy

Last week we hosted the first in a series of events that will help member cities make the best of public procurement. The two day seminar took place in Brussels from 12-13 November and focused on innovation, pre-commercial procurement and social clauses.

We hosted a seminar in Brussels on 12-13 November focusing on the public procurement of innovation, pre-commercial procurement and social clauses in public procurement.

At the seminar, European Commission representatives presented information on the new 2014 procurement directives; and city experts from Amsterdam, Eindhoven, London, Munich, Preston, Oslo and Stockholm gave practical examples. The first part of the seminar indicated increasing support from the EU institutions for pre-commercial procurement and the procurement of innovation in terms of funding, training, toolkits, helpdesk and legal assistance.

In a series of group discussions, city representatives shared their experiences and gathered ideas about how innovative and socially responsible procurement is carried out in other cities. 

The discussion themes included:

  • using social clauses in public procurement to increase the labour market participation of vulnerable groups and to strategically develop local skills

  • using social clauses to procure ethically

  • using social clauses not only to promote labour market inclusion but to create added social value for the local community e.g. by providing ICT courses to older people

  • the role of corporate social responsibility policies in public procurement

  • monitoring contracts and ensuring compliance with social clauses

The seminar concluded with a debate between André Sobczak, councillor at Nantes Metropole, and Paola Zanetti, European Commission deputy head of unit for public procurement strategy. 

One of the main talking points was the difference between the legal interpretations of the provisions of the 2014 directives and what is actually practical and useful for city administrations. 

André Sobczak highlighted the importance of the strategic use of public procurement by cities to influence the local labour market and goods and services markets. He said: “We need to take risk in the interpretation of the directives to pursue responsible procurement.” He suggested that the EU could support cities by developing guidelines and providing training on social clauses in procurement. 

The panellists agreed that an open dialogue and collaboration between cities and the European Commission would be helpful: it would allow cities' perspectives on procurement to inform the EU policy making process, and it would also give cities the opportunity to clarify various legal provisions in the directives. 

We are planning to organise a mutual learning event on public procurement next year.

You can watch the video "Social Clauses in Public Procurement in Nantes - CSR Criterias", which was presented at the seminar below:

EUROCITIES Seminar on procurement : minutes and... par NantesMetropole

"Public procurement is a way of finding synergies between public and private interests: companies have to fulfil criteria as part of their daily work for the production process of goods and services. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is evaluated on the basis of these criteria and gives a good overview of the company policy prior the signature of the contract. For example with a cleaning company".