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The power of green public procurement

Jill Michielssen

elni Review 2006, pp. 55-58.

Europe's public authorities spend the equivalent of approximately 16% of the EU's GDP on purchasing goods and services. It is therefore crucial that public procurement takes into account environmental protection if the EU is to achieve its Kyoto Protocol target of reducing greenhouse emissions by 8% from 1990 levels, by 2012. “Green” procurement can also contribute significantly to the EU's Strategy for Growth and Jobs. The EU has been legislating on public procurement since 1971 but in 2004, it adopted a new series of public procurement directives which make it absolutely clear that public authorities can take into account the environment when procuring goods, services and works. In 2003, a European Commission study showed that if all public bodies in the EU switched to green electricity, they would avoid more than 60 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, thus contributing towards 18% of the EU’s Kyoto target. Each year, the public sector buys more than 2.8 million PCs. If it started purchasing energy-efficient desktop computers, another 830 000 tonnes of CO2 would be prevented, which would bring us an additional 0.25% closer to the Kyoto goal. Other environmental benefits include more sustainable use of natural resources, waste prevention and recycling, and more sustainable cities.

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  1. Council Recommendation on broad economic policy guidelines of July 2005 and the Conclusions from the Spring EU Summit in March 2006.
  2. Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts, OJ 2004 L 134/114.
  3. Directive 2004/17/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors, OJ 2004 L 134/1.
  4. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - Integrated Product Policy - Building on Environmental Life-Cycle Thinking COM/2003/0302 final.
  5. WTO, Agreement on Government Procurement, GPA.