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EU public procurement directives

In 2004, the Council and the European Parliament adopted two directives aimed at clarifying, simplifying and modernising existing European legislation on public procurement.

Directive 2004/18/EC covers public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts.

Directive 2004/17/EC covers the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors.

In contrast with the earlier EU Directives governing procurement, the 2004 Directives contain specific reference to the possibility of including environmental considerations in the contract award process. The preamble to Directive 2004/18/EC identifies the objective of clarifying how contracting authorities “...may contribute to the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development, whilst ensuring the possibility of obtaining the best value for money for their contracts.”

More detailed provisions permit

  • the inclusion of environmental requirements in technical specifications (Article 23(3)b);
  • the use of eco-labels (Article 23(6));
  • setting social and environmental conditions for the performance of contracts (Article 26);
  • requiring economic operators to demonstrate they have met their environmental obligations (Article 27);
  • requiring economic operators to demonstrate they can perform a contract in accordance with environmental management measures (Articles 48(2)f and 50); and
  • applying award criteria based on environmental characteristics (Article 53).

The Directives thus offer a number of opportunities for GPP to be implemented, throughout the contract award process.

For further information on public procurement legislation and relevant documents please consult the website of DG Internal Market.