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2016 - The implementation and application of the European Public Procurement directive
Short description of the action:
The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) and its affiliated national trade unions with the help and assistance of the coordinating expert and a group of selected experts prepared a trade union manual on how to implement the social aspects of the Public procurement directive at national level. On the basis of the study, they engaged in an internal discussion on how to apply the social considerations of the latest Public Procurement Directive in the interest of the workers and to ensure that all public tenders are transparent.

The study is primarily based on:
- A Legal evaluation of the Directive, which outlines the key principles of the Directive (e.g. link of social considerations to the subject matter of the contract), what it seeks to achieve and the benefits it can bring forward in the specification procedure and the award procedure.
- The implementation possibilities with regard to social aspects with a focus on (1) the fight against social dumping practices, (2) developing transparency, assessing the implementation options of various social considerations offered in the new directive.
- An overview of best practices.

On 28-29 May 2015, the EFBWW organized a two-day seminar in Frankfurt (DE). The participants discussed how the EU Public Procurement Directive (2014/24/EU) is best transposed into national legislation, focusing in particular on the various social provisions and possibilities provided by the new directive. At the seminar, the EFBWW also presented its draft manual with the aim to further discuss it and complete it with a range of practical case studies.

In order to assist local trade union officials/works council members/trade union representatives in the use of the existing social framework at company level, the project also developed five practical thematic factsheets on the following topics:
a. Public procurement tools for a better control and enforcement;
b. Prevention, monitoring and interventions in case of wage dumping in Public Procurement;
c. Public Procurement as a lever to boost the employment of vulnerable groups, such as younger workers and migrants;
d. Public procurement as a tool to ensure that health and safety of the workers are being respected
e. Workers’ involvement in subcontracting and outsourcing

Main objectives of the action
With the Public Procurement Directive, the EU clearly adopted a tool of social considerations, aimed at ensuring non-discrimination, decent health and safety standards, quality of work, … This set of tools now needs to be implemented and applied in the different Member States. As trade unions we must use the tool of social considerations as a lever to contribute to an overall improvement of the working conditions of the workers in the construction industry.
To this end it is important that trade unions understand the Public Procurement rules and are able to translate “principles” into concrete actions at the shop floor level. The EU-project provided several tools and meeting opportunities on how to achieve this objective.

Key Results
Public Procurement is often considered to be a pure legal affair, dominated by big law firms and complicated legal considerations. The aim of this EU project “The implementation and Application of the European Public Procurement Directive”, was to provide a practical guide for trade unions for the implementation process of the new EU-Public Procurement Directive. Focus was put on best practices as they offer a good overview of what is legally possible within the still paramount guiding principles of the Directive, namely transparency and non-discrimination. It should also be noted that legally enshrined principles do not mirror reality if there is no control. Therefore, best practices with regard to black and white lists as well as other innovative control mechanisms have been included as an important tool to support the good intentions in the everyday reality of workers in the construction sector.
Often national governments prefer to take the line of least resistance and opt for a minimum adaptation of national law with regard to the transposition of the Directive. Trade unions are requested to strongly oppose these tendencies and to improve the PP process by formulating quality standards relating to occupational, health and safety issues to be applied by public procurement procedures and to cast them into binding legislation as much as possible.
Trade unions are in favour of clear, controllable and enforceable rules and thus reluctant to Corporate Social Responsibility, framework agreements or any other non-binding arrangements. The principles proposed by trade unions during the national implementation process should be the following:
- the consideration of social aspects when implementing the Directive is a political obligation to be taken up and not only a legal subject matter;
- the stipulation of the obligation to respect social aspects is not only in the interest of trade unions but also in the interest of companies which abide by these obligations. Public procurement law is thus an instrument to establish a fair level playing field in order to avoid distortion of competition;
- the fight of social dumping is also a political aim in order to reduce the post contract costs borne by society as a whole. The public contractor should take a leading role, especially with regard to: the compliance with and consideration of collective agreements; the establishment of a sound system of industrial relations at all levels and the use of public procurement as a lever to ensure that younger worker receive the opportunity of fair training.

The project aimed to assist the national trade unions in the national debates as to the implementation and application of the recently adopted Public Procurement Directive. Since the European legislators agreed upon several ground breaking social considerations in the PP Directive, the involvement of workers’ concerns in the debate is crucial.

Based on the existing information, projects, best-practices, studies at European and national level, the project developed the following actions:
- A manual for national trade unions to be used in the national implementation and application debates
- A 2-day European seminar, where the manual was presented, assessed and discussed
- A practical guide of best practices with workers’ guidelines on how to implement and apply the current PP Directives within Works Councils. In this regard 4 regional seminars have been organised for members of Works Councils of the road construction industry, where the manual and guide was used as a point of departure in order to strengthen the application of the PP Directive at transnational level and ensure that the application of the PP Directive was discussed within the concerned Works Councils.

As Public procurement is a very complex matter, trade unions will need time to adapt their internal structures and organization to cope with this new task. From a general point of view we can state that trade unions now realized that they need a stronger involvement in the public procurement tenders and procedures allowing them to contribute to achieving transparent and socially fair public tenders.

At company level – especially in those sectors with a high dependence on public tenders – trade union officials and shop stewards are now better prepared to engage in a dialogue with the management on subcontracting.

While the added value of the project is relative clear, we cannot determine the lasting impact of the project and/or its multiplier effect. This will be measured in a later stage.

Please click on the links below to download the manual and the thematic fact sheets.
The manual is available in ENGLISH, FRENCH, GERMAN, ITALIAN, DUTCH, POLISH, SERBIAN

The thematic fact sheets are available in ENGLISH, FRENCH, GERMAN, ITALIAN, SPANISH, DUTCH, POLISH, SERBIAN

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