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Socially responsible public procurement debated in the European Parliament

25 April 2013

The conference “Socially responsible public procurement of work wear: challenges and opportunities at EU level” took place in the European Parliament on 9 April 2013. The event was hosted by two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that are highly active in the field, Åsa Westlund and Marc Tarabella. Ms. Westlund insisted on the important role of labels to certify compliance with the requirements set by public authorities, while Mr. Tarabella recalled the Parliaments’ concerns about the sustainability of the cotton supply chain and the working conditions in garment factories.

Mr. Tarabella also stated that in Europe, public procurement represents nearly half of the work wear market, valued at 4 billion Euros. The first intervention came from Carole Crabbé from achACT who presented the “Manual for socially responsible public procurement: work and promotional wear”, addressed to local authorities that want to include social criteria in their public tenders. This presentation was followed by Bettina Musiolek, author of the report “Made in Macedonia” about working conditions in the garment factories in the FYROM. Strong emphasis was placed on the difficulties to control the textile supply chain.

Hendrine Stelwagen, Business Development Manager at the Fair Wear Foundation explained the difficulty of governments when relying on verification schemes. The last intervention was made by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office on behalf of the Network for Sustainable Development in Public Procurement. The demands of this network towards the future Directive on public procurement were presented. There was a strong focus on the need to ensure legal clarity and consistency throughout the future procurement legislation to facilitate the introduction of social criteria. A debate with the public followed.

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