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Updated EU Procurement Directives offer more scope for sustainability

2 May 2014

In January 2014, the European Parliament adopted three new public procurement directives: general Directive 2014/24/EU, Directive 2014/23/EU on the award of concession contracts and Directive 2014/25/EU, which deals with utilities. The new regulations include expanded social, sustainable and ethical criteria which give public authorities more discretion when choosing suppliers.

A key change is the expansion of the 'most economically advantageous tender' clause to include criteria such as quality, environmental considerations, social aspects and innovation when awarding contracts. Suppliers who have been convicted for child labour or other forms of human trafficking, as well as those in breach of tax payments, must now be excluded from all public tenders. Public authorities are also able to exclude suppliers who are in violation of certain environmental and social conventions, such as the Vienna Convention on the protection of the ozone layer.

Other amendments include the ability to ask suppliers which supply chain management systems they will use during the tender process. Requesting evidence of environmental management measures, previously only allowed for services and works, is now also deemed relevant for supply contracts. Taken together, these reforms provide greater scope for local authorities to create more ethical and sustainable supply chains. Member states now have until April 2016 to transpose the directives into national law, making them binding for public procurers in all member states.

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