Subject: Green public procurement, invigorating the European economy and combating climate change

26 October 2009


WRITTEN QUESTION by Kriton Arsenis (S-D) to the Commission

SUBJECT: Green public procurement, invigorating the European economy and combating climate change

In its communication on integrated product policy (18 June 2003), the Commission emphasised its strategy to promote the continuous improvement of the environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle. The EU's action plan to promote environmental technologies in the context of innovation, development and sustainability (28 January 2004) refers to measures to promote green public procurement as one of the ‘key’ actions to achieve that objective. The report adopted on the revision of the Lisbon Strategy (November 2004) again stressed the need for national and local government to draw up action plans to make public procurement more environment-friendly by the end of 2006. On 16 July 2008, the Commission presented its views on public procurement for a better environment, in which it proposed, in particular, that, by the end of 2010, 50 % of all Member States' public procurement should be green.

The public sector in Europe has an important role to play as a more active participant in protecting the environment and reducing emissions of pollutant gases which are contributory factors towards climate change. For example, many of the cleaning products used by public services are toxic and emissions of greenhouse gases could be reduced by 60 million tonnes if the electricity which the public sector consumes was sourced from the green market, a quantity equal to 18 % of the EU's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, in view of the economic crisis, stimulating the market in green products would help to boost growth and employment figures. The Commission's estimate that the public sector spends 1 000 billion euro per year on procurement of goods and services is indicative of the situation.

In the light of the above, will the Commission immediately introduce a requirement stipulating that a specific percentage of the total number of Member States' public procurement contracts should be green as a measure to combat climate change?

Answer given by Mr Dimas on behalf of the Commission

As the question indicates, in the Commission's Communication ‘Public Procurement for a Better Environment’(1), the Commission proposed that by 2010, Member States should endeavour to meet the target of 50 % of tendering procedures as ‘green’, where ‘green’ means compliant with the developed common Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria for 10 priority product groups and services. Many of these criteria address the challenges of climate change by setting criteria for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, etc. In its communication, the Commission also invited Member States to endorse these criteria in their national action plans or guidance. In 2011, the Commission will carry out a monitoring exercise on the implementation of GPP in all EU Member States. On the basis of this monitoring exercise, the Commission will assess the needs for future requirements for the EU GPP.

The Commission would also like to draw attention to the fact that mandatory requirements for GPP have been introduced in several pieces of legislation:
— Directive 2006/32/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services(2);
— Regulation (EC) No 106/2008 of the Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on a Community energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment(3);
— Directive 2009/33/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles(4).

The issues of mandatory requirements for GPP and the role of public authorities in promoting energy efficiency are also part of the ongoing discussion with the Council and the European Parliament on the proposed recasts of both the directive on the energy performance of buildings and the directive on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products. As for the new EU Ecolabel Regulation, a manual for public authorities has to be published for each new or revised product group developed.

(1) COM(2008)400 final.
(2) OJ L 114, 27.4.2006.
(3) OJ L 39, 13.2.2008.
(4) OJ L 120, 15.5.2009.