CJEU confirms Fair Trade in public tenders

European Court confirms possibility to demand Fair Trade criteria in public procurement

10 May 2012 (Brussels) - Two days before World Fair Trade Day, the Court of Justice of the European Union provides much-needed legal clarification by confirming that Fair Trade criteria can be included in public procurement. This confirms the practice across the European Union by contracting authorities and cannot be ignored in the current revision of the EU Public Procurement Directive.

This decision puts an end to a dispute between the Dutch Government and the European Commission. In 2008 the Province of North Holland, published a tendering procedure for a public contract for the supply and management of automatic coffee machines, which referred to products bearing the EKO and Max Havelaar labels. The European Commission referred the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2010 for non-compliance with the EU public procurement rules.

In its ruling today, the Court clearly states that contracting authorities can chose award criteria based on considerations of an environmental or social nature. The Court also explicitly states it is possible to refer in award criteria “to the fact that a product is of fair trade origin”. Consequently, public authorities can give preference to a bidder who includes Fair Trade criteria.

The judgment also confirms that contracting authorities can refer to the environmental characteristics of Fair Trade (e.g. no pesticides, no Genetically Modified Organisms) as part of the technical specifications of a call for tenders.

Concerning the reference to labels, the Court considers that, by referring to a label without listing the underlying criteria of this label, the North-Holland Province did not comply with the provisions of the Directive . The Court is of the view that it is necessary to  specify the underlying criteria of labels, such as Fair Trade labels. Labels are nevertheless considered by the Court as a valid means of proof of compliance with such criteria, provided that other means of proof are allowed.

Overall, the ruling is good news for the Fair Trade movement as it clarifies the inclusion of Fair Trade considerations all along the tendering process, under the current EU Public Procurement Directive. Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office stated “we welcome the confirmation by the European Court that Fair Trade criteria can be supported through public procurement under the current EU rules”.

This clarification is on time as the EU Public Procurement Directive is currently being revised at EU level. An important issue at stake is whether, in the future EU rules, technical specifications can refer to social aspects in production process “The European Parliament and Council of Ministers should ensure the future EU rules permit a distinction to be made in the technical specifications between products produced with or without, for example, forced child labour”.

The ruling is also timely as it has been issued two days before World Fair Trade Day, an initiative of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) that takes place every second Saturday of May. In this context, Fair Trade will be celebrated on 12 May 2012 in diverse places and cultures across the globe. Various events are organized in more than 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Pacific Rim.

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) speaks out for Fair Trade and trade justice with the aim to improve trading conditions for marginalised producers and workers in the South. It is a joint initiative of the European Fair Trade Association (EFTA), Fairtrade International (FLO and the World Fair Trade Organization-Europe (WFTO-Europe). These networks bring together over 2 million Fair Trade producers from more than 60 countries, 24 labelling initiatives, hundreds of specialized Fair Trade importers, over 3000 Worldshops and more than 100,000 volunteers.

Contact: Elba Estrada. Fair Trade Advocacy Office. Rue Fernand Bernierstraat 15 – 1060 Brussels – Belgium. Tel: +32 (0) 4 73 540 741. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To download the press release as PDF click here.

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European Parliament calls again on the European Commission to encourage Fair Trade Public Procurement

18 May 2010 (Brussels) - The European Parliament issued a clear call to action in the report “New developments in public procurement” from 18 May, 2010 as it renews pressure on the European Commission to support Fair Trade Public Procurement. The Fair Trade movement applauds the Parliament's adoption and waits for results from the Commission.

The European Parliament (EP) "Calls on the Commission to encourage public authorities to use Fair Trade criteria in their public tenders and purchasing policies on the basis of the Fair Trade definition as recognized by the European Parliament resolution on Fair Trade and Development of 6 June 2006 and the recent European Commission Communication of 5 May 2009; reiterates its earlier call to the Commission to promote this by, e.g., producing constructive guidelines for Fair Trade procurement; welcomes the unanimous adoption of the opinion of the Committee of the Regions on 11 February 2010 calling for a common European Fair Trade strategy for local and regional authorities".

This call must be interpreted in the context of the current work of the European Commission (EC) on a draft guide “Buying social: a guide to taking account of social considerations in public procurement”, expected by June 2010, which is supposed to give guidance on how to include social considerations in public procurement. The European Parliament calls again on the European Commission to encourage Fair Trade Public Procurement.

Read the entire Fair Trade Advocacy Press Release, (eng) by clicking here

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Committee of the Regions adopts opinion on Fair Trade

11 February 2010 (Brussels) - The Fair Trade movement applauds the European Union’s Committee of the Regions (CoR) in its unanimous adopting of an opinion in support of Fair Trade and calling for the need to adopt a European Strategy and action plan for Fair Trade for Local and Regional Authorities.

Sergi Corbalán, on behalf of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) and the European Fair Trade Association (EFTA) stated “We welcome the Committee of the Regions´ support for Fair Trade and a European Strategy and action plan for Fair Trade for Local and Regional Authorities.”

The Committee of the  Regions´opinion calls on the local and regional authorities, EU Member States, European Commission, and the Committee of the Regions, to join forces to further support Fair Trade.

Read the entire Fair Trade Advocacy Press Release, (eng) by clicking here.

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Commission adopts communication on Fair Trade

5 May 2009 (Brussels) - The Fair Trade movement welcomes the adoption of a Communication on Fair Trade by the European Commission, ‘Contributing to Sustainable Development: The role of Fair Trade and non-governmental trade-relayed sustainability assurance schemes’. The Fair Trade movement is pleased that the EC recognizes Fair Trade’s values and has referenced the principles defined by the Fair Trade movement and offers to continue working together with the European Union, EU Member States and regional and local authorities to the benefit of marginalised producers and poor workers in the South.

For more information, upload the entire Fair Trade Advocacy Office press release here.

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Newsletters

Newsletter - November 2010

We are pleased to present you the sixth and last newsletter of the Public Affairs project, where you will find the latest information about the project and about Fair Trade Public Procurement in Europe.

Download the 6th newsletter in PDF format

In this issue:

  • Public Affairs project’s last review
  • European Commission’s guide « Buying social » is now available!
  • Inspiration from ... France, UK, Sweden, Germany, Spain, European Parliament
  • Regional Updates - Belgium, Italy, Spain
  • Events and Publications - Past and Upcoming


Newsletter - June 2010
Please find below a link to the fifth newsletter of the Public Affairs project.
Download the 5th newsletter in PDF format


Newsletter - December 2009
Please find below a link to the fourth newsletter of the Public Affairs project.
Download the 4th newsletter in PDF format


Newsletter - June 2009
Please find below a link to the third newsletter of the Public Affairs project.
Download the 3rd newsletter in PDF format


Newsletter - November 2008
Please find below a link to the second newsletter of the Public Affairs project.
Download the 2nd newsletter in PDF format


Newsletter - June 2008

Please find below a link to the first newsletter of the Public Affairs project.
Download the 1st newsletter in PDF format

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