- National Laws -
The implementation of Directive 2004/18/EC has not yet been finalized in Belgium, though the Belgian Parliament voted through the law for transposing the Directive. This law facilitates the possibility of the inclusion of environmental and social criteria within public purchasing decisions, and gives public authorities the option of awarding priority to social workplaces. Social in this context however is not specified.
Politicians in favour of Fair Trade claim that the law is a success and is the most that could be hoped for from such a Directive. It is vague in some ways, but implies that Fair Trade criteria could be included as mandatory, and deserving of FLO certification.
The Belgian Parliament is also working towards establishing a legal definition of Fair Trade, as this is an area which is currently vague. Three political parties have proposed the formulation of such a law in the Belgian Parliament, and all three proposals form the basis for a good debate on the issue. It is the hope of the Fair Trade movement that one proposal will be decided upon, and that a law on the use of the Fair Trade label can be voted on prior to the next parliamentary election in May 2007.
Three Belgian political parties (Ecolo, PS-SPA and CDH) have tabled three proposals for the law concerning recognition of Fair Trade.
The Italian implementation of Directive 2004/18/EC was completed when legislative decree 163 was approved on 12th April this year. The text of the Decreto legislative “Regulation on supply, services and works contracts implementing the EU Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC”. The regulation, which came into force on 1st July, 60 days after its initial publication in early May, opens the door for the Fair Trade movement and makes allowances for social, environmental and sustainable considerations in public purchasing. In Article 2, Part 1 (“Principles”), it is stated that “…Il principio di economicità può essere subordinato, entro i limiti in cui sia espressamente consentito dalle norme vigenti e dal presente codice, ai criteri, previsti dal bando, ispirati a esigenze sociali, nonche' alla tutela della salute e dell'ambiente e alla promozione dello sviluppo sostenibile…” This clause states that while the contracting authority will award contracts to the most economically advantageous tender, the definition of economically advantageous in this context may be subordinated to criteria linked to social considerations, environment, health protection, and the promotion of sustainable development. These criteria must be declared in the tender specifications and must also be in compliance with current legislation.
Further information, and the full legislative text, available at: http://www.giurdanella.it/mainf.php?id=7471
The Spanish draft law implementing Directive 2004/18/EC is very innovative in many ways. One important innovation is the possibility to introduce environmental and social considerations in the performance clauses or in the variants, which will allow reference to Fair Trade requirements in the tender (Considerando IV de la Exposición de Motivos, pág26). The social criteria are linked to employment promotion, and equal opportunities and accessibility.
The transposition of Directive 2004/18/EC is currently in the final stages of implementation. A consultation process on social criteria into public procurement involving different stakeholders, including Fair Trade associations, is being coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Directive 2004/18/EC in the UK came into force in February 2006. The regulations enable public bodies to buy goods, works, and services more effectively and efficiently. It modernizes the system currently in place and enables authorities to use innovative procurement procedures, including eProcurement methods, which it is hoped will encourage small businesses to enter the market. The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) feels that the Directive is slightly restrictive in some ways. Many of the provisions in the new Directive are already in place from the previous Directives that it replaces, though they are simplified and clarified. Many of the new provisions representing best practices are also already in use in the UK, and the requirements laid out by the Directive only oblige contracting authorities and not the private sector. The regulations only apply to England and Wales, as Scotland has elected to implement the Directive independently. In February 2006, the OGC also released a guide to social considerations into public procurement. The paper focuses on the different stages of the procurement process, and the way social issues can legitimately be incorporated into the purchasing cycle. It is not meant to act as an exhaustive list of social issues, but is intended as a general guide for procurement and policy practitioners to show the positive actions that they can take to incorporate relevant social issues. One of the main social issues covered in the paper is Fair Trade.
Wales and Scotland to become Fair Trade Nations
In July, 1 year after Sir Bob Geldof led a 200,000-strong demonstration on the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland has confirmed its commitment to “turning talk about poverty into action” as it launched its campaign to become a Fair Trade Nation. Both Wales and Scotland are now working together to engage all sectors of society in national awareness-raising schemes which aims to have both Scotland and Wales registered as Fair Trade nations by 2007.
While both Wales and Scotland have taken steps in the past towards encouraging Fair Trade, with Wales already establishing 13 Fair Trade cities, the new goal sets a high standard for the nations in terms of the criteria they are expected to meet. Becoming a Fair Trade city requires that 100% of local authorities have Fair Trade groups which are working towards attaining Fair Trade status, with at least 55% of local authorities already having achieved it. All cities must achieve Fair Trade city status, and 60% of higher Education institutions have to be aiming towards the title as well. In addition to all of this, amongst other criteria, 75% of the population must buy at least one Fair Trade product per year. All of these goals are being monitored by local Fair Trade Forums.
Yet the two nations remain undaunted, according to representatives from the Welsh Assembly who stated that both it and the Scottish Executive are “committed to Fair Trade which guarantees a better deal for third world farmers, hundreds of thousands of whom now benefit from the scheme as sales of Fair Trade goods continue to grow in the UK at a rate of 40% a year.”
Regional Fairtrade project for Yorkshire and the Humber
Twenty two local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber region are working together to promote Fairtrade among their own community and support towns and cities in the region in achieving Fairtrade status. Fairtrade Yorkshire is a unique partnership of the local authorities and other interested public sector organisations in the region who have come together to increase the awareness of Fairtrade and the associated issues and thereby increase the use of such products by councils, businesses and individuals alike.
For more information, check http://www.fairtradeyorkshire.org