Public authorities spend public money when they procure products and services. The amount of this public money represents approximately 19% of the EU GDP or more than 2.3 trillion euros. Spending of such large amounts of money can have a significant impact on the market, and can create demand and spread the good example.
Understanding the power of public procurement, the European Union, in all relevant strategic documents, highlights its relevance to ensuring sustainable development. In the light of this tendency nowadays public procurement is no longer treated as a mere administrative process for purchasing something, but also as a tool that contributes to reaching strategic goals.
The UN, too, has highlighted the importance of public procurement under its Sustainable Development Goals (goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production).
The European Commission aims to support the uptake of the new, green, innovative and circular procurement practices. Beside the development of green criteria for 21 product groups, several platforms are there to assist public authorities.
The main purpose of the EU GPP Helpdesk, is to promote and disseminate information about the GPP, and to provide answers to stakeholders' enquiries.
Another example is the Procurement of Innovation Platform, which is an online hub that targets public authorities, procurers, policy makers and researchers. The Platform consists of three elements: website, Procurement Forum, and Resource Centre.
Innovation procurement is also addressed by the European Assistance for Innovation Procurement initiative which promotes the benefits of innovation procurement. The initiative also provides training and assistance to public procurers interested in implementing innovation procurements of ICT-based solutions across the EU.
In its Circular Economy Action Plan the European Commission has called for an enhanced integration of circular economy requirements into public procurements. The new term “circular procurement” has been introduced and related approaches are being promoted.
Circular procurement is a general public procurement process, which integrates aspects stimulating a transition to a circular economy during the whole procedure, starting from the preparatory/planning phase to the end-of-use phase.
The basic principle for circular procurement is to apply a full lifecycle approach and to consider aspects like reparability, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling options, disassembling characteristics etc. Paradigm shifts, like moving from ownership to usership are also encouraged.
The Interreg Europe Programme provides support to uptake innovative procurement approaches as part of the environment and resource efficiency topic. Two Interreg Europe projects – GPP4Growth and SYMBI – focus on procurement.