EU regulation of corporate CSR activity: using public procurement as a compliance tool

As the linked article below heralds, the EU executive is today about to take to the airwaves to denounce corporate Europe for the absence of innovation in CSR policies and activity.

This failure will be attributed to a lack of diversity in board-rooms which leads to “groupthink” (an unpleasantly Orwellian phrase when used by what many regard as the ultimate “Big Brother”) informed by shared ethnicity, shared educational experience etc.

In the UK at least and from a procurement perspective, this plays into a complex matrix of competing interests which the Blog has observed and commented on for some time.

The clear policy driver for public procurement regulation across the EU is opening markets up to competition, allowing for buying and selling on a level playing field with clear visibility of all aspects of the process.

For a number of years, however, the lobby in favour of the use of public procurement as a tool for the implementation of so called “horizontal” policies (for example, social and environmental considerations) has also been growing. Recessionary times around Europe, increasing the focus on the need to identify the means of growing the EU economy, have added economic and local concerns to that raft of “horizontal” policy objectives.

These two tectonic movements are in continual tension.

For corporates who contract with the Public Sector, one strategy for managing this tension (heightened by these proposals to increase the regulation on CSR performance) is to seek to use the Social Value Act as a positive tool for the demonstration of CSR policy, activity and product. This could also achieve the happy result of handing to contracting authorities a solution to their Social Value Act compliance issues. They will always tend to err in favour of Public Contracts Regulations compliance over SVA compliance (given the respective enforcement regimes) but easy wins on SVA compliance will, undoubtedly, be welcome.

http://tinyurl.com/cup8rub

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