Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, mayor of Warsaw, spoke at the high-level conference on public procurement ‘Joining forces in public procurement to power investment’ on Thursday 7 December. This European Commission organised event aimed to establish a lasting partnership between different actors.
The partnership between the European Commission and EUROCITIES on public procurement follows on directly from Commissioner Bienkowska’s involvement in our high level roundtable on work in February 2016 and our Declaration on Work.
In her remarks, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz said that “Procurement is about values, not only value for money but pursuing specific public policy goals”.
EUROCITIES member cities are committed to strategic public procurement. Public resources, used in efficient and effective ways can help add economic and social value.
This should include goals around sustainable procurement. However, as Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz pointed out, the new European public procurement package only highlights a few specific actions to promote this. With this in mind, EUROCITIES looks forward to participating in the review of the EU guide on social considerations in public procurement next year. We believe the establishment of an EU-wide network of national innovation procurement centres should be used to promote sustainable procurement, in addition to public procurement of innovation.
For cities, the use of public procurement needs to be considered as part of an overall strategy to reach precise objectives such as stimulating the local economy, creating jobs, promoting social inclusion and fostering the use of clean energy.
Many cities have already adopted social clauses in public procurement. Some cities have even included clauses for a ‘living wage’ to ensure fair wages and working conditions. For example, Birmingham set up a business charter for social responsibility. The businesses that sign the charter commit to adopt the Birmingham living wage (which is higher than the national minimum wage) in their organisation and their supply chain. The results have been impressive with over 313 employees and 2,834 city council employees having been uplifted to living wage status, and thus benefitting from better conditions for a good, decent life.
EUROCITIES supports its member cities through its involvement in several projects to promote and improve strategic public procurement. Our Sharing Cities project, for example, aims to develop 10 smart city solutions in different fields, and discuss business models, including innovative, joint and cross-border procurement.
Overall, it is clear that procurement, especially procurement of innovation and pre-commercial procurement, are still complex tools for cities. EU funding from programmes like Horizon 2020 is therefore very welcome, as it helps not only with funding, but training, toolkits, helpdesk and legal assistance. The continuation of this type of funding will be necessary for cities to continue to improve their use of strategic public procurement.