In a joint event organised in Brussels on 14 November, the EU Sectoral Social Partners in diverse essential services, including CoESS, called for a Revision of the EU Public Procurement Directive.
The EU social partner organizations of the industrial cleaning, private security and contract catering sectors (CoESS, EFCI, FSE, EFFAT, UNI Europa) discussed the current state of the EU public procurement provisions, their impact on the respective sectors and possible avenues for improvement for the future.
More than 60 participants from different EU countries and sectors had gathered to debate, exchange about specific features and characteristics of their sectors and reflect on what solutions could be adopted to change a system that is so relevant to them. The event followed a series of individual, sector-specific initiatives to discuss and propose concrete solutions to identify and address the shortcomings of the current EU legislation on public procurement - e.g. the EU Social Partners in the Private Security Services, CoESS and UNI Europa, already adopted a respective Joint Statement calling for a revision of the Directive in 2022.
The event was opened by MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (Renew Europe), member of the International Trade and Employment Committees in the European Parliament, who pointed out the role of public procurement as a driver for sustainable growth, inspired by the same principles that are at the basis of our European social and economic models, and its strategic importance in the context of the international positioning of the European Union. In this context, she continued, the procurement of labour-intensive services brings the same strategic dimension as the purchase of goods or the construction of works, while contributing further to a more equitable and prosperous society. And for this reason, she underlined the need to quickly address the main challenges associated to the implementation of the directive, including the excessive reliance of public tenders on the lowest price as the main awarding criteria in public tenders, and the lack of monitoring mechanisms from contracting authorities.
On behalf of CoESS, Eduardo Cobas (2nd Vice President and Chair of the CoESS Social Dialogue Committee) and Alexander Frank (Head of EU Affairs) highlighted the strategic issue of public procurement provisions for an essential service like private security. They underlined that the current EU legislation allows national law and public procurers to award tenders based on the lowest price only and to ignore social criteria. In the private security services, which provide an essential service to public security overall, this incentivises a race to the bottom - impacting in the end the security of European citizens. Both called therefore for a revision that makes compliance with Collective Agreements mandatory, where they exist, and that provides procurers with more legal certainty to apply quality criteria in the awarding of contracts.