Social and environmental considerations in public procurement need to be vamped up. This is the conclusion of the latest ProcureITFair publication ‘Sustainable Procurement in a European Context: practices of IT procurement in five EU countries’, released today.


The European Procurement Directives regulate the procurement of all government bodies within the European Union, that have values above centrally determined thresholds. Each EU member state should have transposed the European Procurement Directives into national legislation by January 31st, 2006. While few member states met this deadline, most have since adapted their national legislation.

The new ProcureITFair publication compares the implementation processes of the European Procurement Directives in five European countries - Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands. Differences are identified both in the implementation of the Directives and in the national procurement legislation that applies to contracts below the Directives thresholds. Efforts for sustainable procurement are to a large extent determined by differences in local legislation.

In addition, the five countries are compared on the basis of the presence of sustainability in their procurement laws and policies. Even greater differences are apparent in this field. Whereas some countries have included adherence to the core ILO conventions in their procurement legislation (Austria), others do not consider sustainability at all (the Czech Republic).

The publication highlights the fact that the strong buying power of public institutions, a powerful tool for promoting sustainability, is currently underutilised. The IT hardware sector exemplifies that labour and human rights conditions within production chains are not currently considered as criteria when purchasing products and services.

On the basis of these comparisons, ProcureITFair makes the following recommendations:

  • All countries should completely transpose the Directives into national law.
  • Central governments should give a prominent place to sustainability in their procurement laws.
  • Governments should adopt the best practises of surrounding countries.
  • Governments should consider the option of ratifying ILO Convention No.94 on Labour Clauses in Public Contracts.
  • Countries that have ratified ILO Convention No.94 should actively implement this in their purchasing policies.
  • More consideration should be given to social criteria when purchasing IT hardware. The resulting requirements should apply throughout the supply chain.
  • Governments should continuously set targets for sustainable procurement.

ProcureITFair is a coalition of NGOs from various European countries that raises awareness on working conditions and environmental pollution in the production of computers and asks politicians and public purchasers to use their (buying) powers to demand compliance with international labour rights and ecological standards in the global supply chain of computers.

The publication Sustainable Procurement in a European Context: practices of IT procurement in five EU countries is the first in a series of briefing papers addressing public procurement, environmental and labour rights issues in the IT hardware production chain.

Notes for the press:

For more information, please contact:
Tim Steinweg or Bart Slob at SOMO: +31-20-6391291

Download the report Sustainable Procurement in a European Context: practices of IT procurement in five EU countries