In Public Procurement, Research


Year: 2021
Published in:
Cited as: n/a


Public Procurement, SRPP, Covid-19


Socially responsible public procurement (SRPP) is about achieving positive social outcomes in public procurement contracts. Procurement affects a large number of people: users of public services, those involved in production and delivery, or staff of the buying organisation. Beyond those directly affected, SRPP has the potential to influence the broader market on both the demand and supply sides.
By purchasing wisely, public buyers can promote employment opportunities, up and reskilling of the workforce, decent work, social inclusion, gender equality and non-discrimination, accessibility, design for all, ethical trade, and seek to achieve wider compliance with social standards. For some products, works and services, the impact can be particularly significant, as public purchasers command a large share of the market in sectors such as civil engineering, healthcare and transport.
To address societal challenges, public authorities need to step up efforts to deliver on all aspects of sustainability (social/ethical, environmental and economic). Public buyers are major investors in Europe, spending currently over 14% of the EU’s gross domestic product. By using their purchasing power to opt for goods and services that deliver positive social outcomes, they can make a major contribution to sustainable development. This Guide offers them support in covering the social dimension of sustainable public procurement.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect employment, increase inequalities, worsen the precariousness and the working conditions of workers globally, place further pressure on the delivery of certain services to the person, and impact smaller businesses. In their recovery strategies, EU Member States will need to improve social inclusion and fairness through education and skills, employment, and social and territorial cohesion, and ensure that the green and digital transitions will create jobs, sustainable growth and socio-economic resilience. Socially responsible purchasing practices are a powerful instrument in the toolbox of EU national administrations to reach these goals.
The purpose of this document is to raise public buyers’ awareness of the potential benefits of SRPP and to explain in a practical way the opportunities offered by the EU legal framework. When drafting this Guide, the Commission consulted widely with public buyers to identify good practices and examples of what can be achieved. These examples are featured throughout the text.
This Guide has been produced for public buyers, but also in the hope that it inspires others involved in procurement, whether as suppliers or service providers, private buyers, social economy players including social enterprises, or NGOs.
The chapters of this guide address all aspects of the procurement process, beyond the tendering procedure itself. They detail how social considerations can be introduced throughout the process, and provide numerous examples from actual practices of public buyers across the EU. In chapters 2 to 5, most sections are followed by a list of “good practices”. These are meant to further facilitate understanding of the text, by summarizing in concrete terms the essential points covered in each section and what public buyers can do in practice if they wish to take a socially responsible approach to the procurement process.