Brussels, 14 November 2019
This year’s EuDA Conference theme was “Sustainable Public Procurement of Waterborne Infrastructures”. The organization wanted to reflect on how sustainable procurement strategies can improve the level playing field and deliver projects’ added value to the three pillars of sustainable development.
In total, public procurement accounts for 15-20% of global GDP and represents a substantial portion of the EU economy and the economies of many countries around the world. Transport infrastructures, including waterborne infrastructures represent a significant portion of public procurement. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), for instance, which is a key EU funding instrument for investing in infrastructures, has allocated €23.7 billion out of €30.4 billion for transport infrastructures.
Progressively, in addition to the primary function to be procured, public authorities introduce in their public tenders specific requirements that aim at reducing environmental impact throughout the life-cycle of their procured goods, services and works. This process can be qualified as Sustainable Public Procurement, when in addition to purchasing work, goods or services, it also seeks to achieve the appropriate balance between the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental).
A key aspect in the process of public procurement for public authorities is the sustainability of their financing which, if overlooked, opens the gates to an unsustainable debt trap. Moreover, heavily subsidised non-EU State-owned Enterprises should not be exempted from the application of the State Aid Regulations in the EU or in EU funded projects.
Sustainable Public Procurement provides an opportunity to improve the level playing field inside and outside Europe and promote quality, value for money and lifecycle costs rather than focus on price only.