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Belgium

Action point 4

Promote existing qualitative initiatives on human rights and social responsibility

Promouvoir les initiatives qualitatives existantes relatives aux droits de l’Homme et à la responsabilité sociétale

The Flemish Government presents its three-year funding project with the ILO “Private and Public Procurement and the Social Economy, South Africa” (for an amount of € 1,735,926 €). Flanders intends to support the social economy and businesses so that they make better use of the regulatory framework for procurement of their goods and services. The project aims at:

  • Re-evaluating, among stakeholders, the role of public and private procurement as a stimulus for job creation in the social economy.
  • Enabling and stimulating an environment for public and private procurement by social enterprises.
  • Offer better assistance to social enterprises, for aspiring, beginning and established entrepreneurs.

Action point 13

Strengthen and monitor the respect for human rights in public procurement

Renforcer et contrôler le respect des droits de l’Homme dans les marchés publics

This is the main action point on public procurement, and covers specific plans for the federal governments as well as all three Belgian regions.

The federal government engagements include:

  • An examination by the Working Group on Sustainable Public Procurement of the Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development on how to strengthen and optimize the integration of respect for human rights into the purchasing policy of the public authorities. This will include stakeholder consultations.
  • The transposition of the EU public procurement directives (Directives 2014/24/EU and 2014/25/EU). Monitoring activities will pay particular attention to the application of award criteria, in particular to the application of price as the sole award criterion.
  • The government will analyze the best way to verify and monitor compliance with the criteria set out in the procurement procedure for products and services in several sensitive sectors, some of which are produced in so-called “risk” countries, in order to ensure that the requirements relating to respect for human rights set out in the specifications have been complied with. Existing best practice in European countries will be used as sources of inspiration.
  • The Working Group on Sustainable Public Procurement analyzed various case studies on monitoring compliance with ILO clauses and human rights in supply chains in order to test, through pilot projects, whether such an initiative is feasible in Belgium. Implementation and follow-up of this initiative will be carried out in cooperation with the relevant federal, regional and local administrations.

The Wallonia engagements include:

  • As participant of the Working Group on Sustainable Public Procurement the public service of Wallonia will also be part of above-mentioned research with the aim of identifying optimization processes for the integration of human rights in public procurement policy.
  • Moreover, the Wallonia and Bruxelles regions have established a portal for public procurement in 2009. A series of tools have been developed and/or gathered into the portal to favour the inclusion of environmental, social and ethical criteria in public procurement.    
  • In 2013, the government of Wallonia decided to set up a purchasing policy on sustainable public procurement, in which Wallonian contracting entities are invited to register for their purchases of supplies, services and works.
  • Reflections and workshops are conducted to strengthen the environmental, social and ethical clauses in public procurement relating to certain product categories. This includes human rights.
  • By the end of 2016 the public procurement plan will be renewed for the period 2017-2019 and will include several actions to make purchases more sustainable in Wallonia.
  • Additionally, Wallonia will organize a competition to promoting public procurement contracts that incorporate ambitious environmental, social and/or ethical criteria, rewarding public purchasers and companies that have concluded such contracts.

The government of Bruxelles’ engagements include:

  • In 2014, the region adopted an order on the inclusion of environmental and ethical clauses in public procurement by regional and local authorities. The aim of including such ethical clauses is the respect for the fundamental rights of persons or social impartiality. Within each contracting authority there shall also be appointed at least one contact person responsible for ensuring the implementation of this order; the implementation of which shall be assessed every 3 years.

The Flemish engagements include:

  • In 2016, the 2016-2020 Plan on Flemish Public Procurement was approved, a plan that emphasizes innovation, sustainability, reduction of human rights violations in supply chains, professionalization and access of SMEs.
  • Pilot projects (related to plan mentined above) in this context the political fields of “Employment and Social Economy” and “Chancellery and Public Governance” will, together with the buyers of the various contracting authorities, monitor the credibility of the supporting documents (concerning the respect for human rights, etc.) and the respect for ILO core Conventions. This is necessary in order to verify that the human rights criteria included in the conditions are also effectively complied with. In this respect, the Flemish Authority will concentrate primarily on the procurement of textile products.
  • Support buyers in the integration of social criteria in public procurement contracts. It especially includes diversity, accessibility, and the inclusion of people from vulnerable groups. The pilot project aims at giving a practical benchmark instrument to buyers, which can be used systematically in each part of the public contract.
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