Social clauses in public procurement – a practical handbook

Research Area: Legal framework


This report was delivered in the framework of the Erasmus+ project “EMPUBLIC – Enhancing self-employment and entrepreneurship of disadvantaged people through better relationships between the public and private sectors”. EMPUBLIC, carried out between 2016 and 2019, was aimed at increasing opportunities for education, business ownership and employment for disadvantaged individuals in the context of public tenders for subcontracting of supplies and services by public administrations. The project consortium was composed of 10 partners – public authorities, educational institutions, social research organizations and associations for local development – from Italy, Slovenia and Spain.

According to the Communication “Making Public Procurement work in and for Europe” (EU Commission, 2017), strategic procurement possibilities are not sufficiently used. The 2014 EU Directives on public procurement leave public buyers entirely free to opt for purchases based on cost-effectiveness and quality-based criteria; however, most economically advantageous tenders on the basis of a cost-effectiveness approach which may include social, environmental, innovative, accessibility or other qualitative criteria are still underused.

With a view to promote socially responsible public procurement, this report provides guidelines on how to include social values in the preparation and award of public contracts that support self-entrepreneurship and employment of disadvantaged persons. The report also examines the national rules set forth in Italy, Spain and Slovenia in light of the European rules and principles; and illustrates some good practices across Europe in the spirit of collecting some useful tips for the EU and national regulators.

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