EU leaders call for procurement to promote collective bargaining

The La Hulpe declaration marks the first time that several EU institutions and social partners jointly call for sustainable public procurement to promote collective bargaining.

EU leaders call for procurement to promote collective bargaining

On 16 April 2024, the interinstitutional La Hulpe Declaration on the Future of the European Pillar of Social Rights was signed by EU institutions and social partners. The aim of the declaration is to prepare the future social agenda of the 2024-2029 period and to reconfirm the European Pillar of Social Rights as the EU social policy compass for years to come.  

It is signed by European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the EU institutions, the European Economic and Social Committee, business groups SME United and SGIEurope, and Social Platform.

A win for workers 

The declaration contains important measures, such as the re-evaluation of the directives on public procurement to ensure they promote collective bargaining: We recall the importance of strengthening the use of distributional impact assessments. We call for sustainable public procurement, including to promote collective bargaining. In this light, the directives on public procurement could be evaluated and, if needed, further steps could be taken.

This marks a milestone for the seven million European services workers UNI Europa represents, from cleaners to security guards, from software developers to call centre workers. As one in seven euros in our economies is spent through public contracts, this money should be used to prevent a social race-to-the-bottom. Unfortunately, social dumping happens all too often on contracts outsourced by the public sector to the private sector. Inadequate compensation, unpaid labour, excessive workloads, illegal contractual agreements, illicit overtime demands, violations of labour rights, precarious job arrangements, intimidation, and wrongful terminations; the list of social dumping on public contracts is long. 

Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa Regional Secretary, commented the signing of the La Hulpe declaration: With the La Hulpe Declaration, the European Commission and the Council finally promise they will promote collective bargaining in public contracts. We will make sure they turn that promise into legislation in the next mandate. The time of the cheapest price – which is nothing but the flipside of worsening working conditions – in public procurement must come to an end.”  

UNI Europa campaigned bears fruit

Launched two years ago, the UNI Europa campaign “No public contract without collective agreement” has pushed the political consensus towards protecting and promoting collective bargaining through social public procurement.

Since its launch, multiple institutions and studies have highlighted the shortcomings of the current EU Public Procurement Directive. This includes a 2023 European Parliament study, expert hearings in the EMPL and IMCO-ENVI Committees in 2021 and 2023, a 2023 European Court of Auditors report and a 2021 EESC opinion. Trade unions and employers from labour-intensive sectors, such as cleaningsecurity and catering, have also published joint statements calling on the European Commission to adjust the public procurement rules. European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit also committed to addressing issues with the EU’s public procurement rules. These developments point towards a revision in the next EU Parliament and Commission mandate. 

Meetings & Events

2024

26

Jun

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26

Jun

UNI Europa workshop and conference on Collective Bargaining and the Minimum Wage Directive

UNI Europa hosts a conference on the upcoming National Action Plans regarding collective bargaining within the framework of the EU Minimum Wage Directive.

10

Jul

1st Workshop – Project: Monitoring and furthering the autonomous implementation of the European framework agreement on occupational health and safety in the hairdressing sector

04

Sep

Commerce/Tourism EWC Network Meeting

Commerce

timing: 9:30 to 12:00