Written answers

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Public Procurement Contracts

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein)
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98. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department is engaging at European level to make social and green clauses more flexible in public procurement. [20404/21]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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In 2017, the European Commission Communication on making Public Procurement work in and for Europe presented a public procurement strategy that sets out the overall policy framework and defined clear priorities to improve procurement in practice and support investment within the EU. The Communication states that strategic public procurement should play a bigger role for central and local governments to respond to societal, environmental, and economic objectives, such as the circular economy.

The European Green Deal was announced by the European Commission in December 2019. It ‘aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use’.It contains a number of actions relevant to public procurement, including the production of a Circular Economy Action Plan, initiatives to screen and benchmark green budgeting practices of the EU and its Member States, a renovation wave for the building sector, and a funding call to support the deployment of public recharging and refuelling points.

As part of the European Green Deal, the EU adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan in 2020. The new Action Plan announces initiatives along the entire life cycle of products, targeting their design, promoting circular economy processes, fostering sustainable consumption, and aiming to ensure that the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible. The Action Plan has a particular focus on the sectors that use most resources and where there is greatest potential for circularity e.g. electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, food, and water and nutrients. As part of this Action Plan, the Commission will propose minimum mandatory green public procurement (GPP) criteria and targets in sectoral legislation and phase in compulsory reporting to monitor the uptake of GPP, without creating unjustified administrative burden for public buyers. The Action Plan also refers to the potential of the social economy and plans to simultaneously support the green transition and strengthen social inclusion, notably under the Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Officials in the Office of Government Procurement and in other relevant departments such as the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) have engaged continuously with relevant European Union working groups such as the Commission Government Experts Group on Public Procurement (EXPP) and the GPP Advisory Group in the development of the above initiatives. Officials continue to engage with their European counterparts on further developments regarding the inclusion of green and social clauses in public procurement.

Of particular note, DECC with support from the OGP participated in the GPP4Growth Interreg Europe project for a number of years, which assisted in the development of a Green Public Procurement (GPP) Training Plan which commenced in 2020 and Phase 2 is taking place this year; development of Circular 20/2019: Promoting the use of Environmental and Social Considerations in Public Procurement; and revision of the 2014 GPP Guidance, Green Procurement - Guidance for the Public Sector, which is now at final draft stage and due for publication in Q2 2021.


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