European Commission confirms Fair Trade public procurement is a great way to achieve social sustainability objectives


The European Commission published on 27 May 2021 an updated version of the guide on how to introduce social (including fair trade) considerations in public procurement entitled Buying Social - a guide to taking account of social considerations in public procurement. The guide is available in all official EU languages here.

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office welcomes the new EC Buying Social guide as it confirms that Fair Trade is a helpful strategy to achieve social sustainability objectives through public procurement.

The guide:

•             Refers to the case-law of the European Court of Justice on Fair Trade (page 11 and page 74 of the English language version), stating that the Court ruled that ¨fair trade criteria could be considered linked to the ¨subject-matter¨ of the contract¨

•             Reiterates it is legally possible to introduce Fair Trade criteria in the ¨award criteria¨ (page 71) and performance clauses, according to the 2014 Public Procurement Directive and case-law

•             Refers to Fair Trade as one of the two examples of combining social with other criteria (page 73)

•             Gives examples of local authorities having introduced Fair Trade criteria, namely for workwear for the city of Ghent in Belgium (workwear including Fair Trade cotton, see page 44) and food for schools in Munich in Germany (see page 78)

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office will continue working to ensure that the public procurement legal framework in the European Union supports and promotes the uptake of Fair Trade and the wider sustainability agenda via public procurement.

For questions, please contact Sergi Corbalán, corbalan[at]fairtrade-advocacy.org