The European Parliament’s ENVI Committee has adopted its opinion on the modernisation of EU public procurement policy, prepared by rapporteur Åsa Westlund (S&D, Sweden). The opinion contains a number of the suggestions brought forward by EPHA in its consultation response earlier this year.
The ENVI opinion follows the Green Paper on the ’’Modernisation of EU public procurement policy: Towards a more efficient European Procurement Market’’ of January 2011, which dealt with questions concerning how far European legislation shall go and how much margin for manoeuvre should be granted to local and national authorities.
For the ENVI Committee (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee within the European Parliament), the question as to what extent environmental criteria should be made mandatory or not is particularly important. However, they are also interested in cross-border access, as well as inclusion of social criteria for awarding public contracts.
EPHA welcomes the opinion by Åsa Westlund (S&D, Sweden) which - although not as far-ranging as the EPHA position - is in favour of local authorities having the freedom to include these criteria and recommends that they take them into account. We will continue to monitor the progress of the Green Paper.
Timeline: Vote in IMCO (Internal Market Committee: 19 September 2011
The ENVI committee provided an opinion to its colleagues in the IMCO committee, who have a lead on the issue. Once the IMCO has assessed the opinion of the different committees, it will adopt its opinion. And then, the whole plenary of the European Parliament will formally adopt a position.
Public procurement plays a key role in the EU 2020 strategy as an instrument for:
improving framework conditions for business to innovate, making full use of demand side policy;
supporting the shift towards a resource efficient and low-carbon economy, e.g. by encouraging wider use of green public procurement, and
improving the business environment for innovative SMEs.
The EU 2020 strategy also stresses that public procurement policy must ensure the most efficient use of public funds, especially in light of the ongoing economic crisis and the cuts suffered by public services.
However, as outlined in EPHA’s response to the Green paper consultation launched earlier this year, at present there is a dichotomy between seeking market efficiency and pursuing social goals, and it is important that the two work in harmony at all stages of the procurement process. Crucially, unsustainable procurement policies can bring about dangerous public health consequences for all people living in Europe. Long-term objectives must prevail over short-term financial gains.
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