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Finland

Abstract

“Key aims for the action plan are the legislative report, definition of the due diligence obligation, and the application of social criteria in public procurement.”

Government covering note on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights National Action Plan

“Key aims for the action plan are the legislative report, definition of the due diligence obligation, and the application of social criteria in public procurement.”

Social criteria in public procurement

The EU Procurement Directive better allows social issues to be more effectively taken into consideration in public procurement. The possibilities for emphasising quality factors and social responsibility afforded by the Directive are being used in the comprehensive amendment of the Act on Public Contracts. Amendment of the Act on Public Contracts is being carried out under the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in cooperation with stakeholders.

Foreword

“As a state, Finland actively works to ensure that human rights are respected in international arenas. In Finland, the Constitution provides strong protection for the realisation of human rights. The working group has written down objectives for Finland’s international activities, but improvements are also proposed for the state’s operations as a public procurer …”

2 The state and companies

2.1 The state as an economic operator [page 20-21]

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT

“The value of public procurement in relation to EU gross domestic product is approximately 17 per cent. It is likely that such a large amount includes procurement that may have significant impacts on human rights. In its Resolution on Corporate Social Responsibility, the Finnish Government encourages public procurers to take social aspects into consideration. For the promotion of human rights, the procurement act allows consideration of aspects related to employment, working conditions, the position of vulnerable individuals and corporate social responsibility in connection with public procurement. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has published a guide to socially responsible procurement, with practical examples gathered from procurement units, explaining how social aspects can be taken into consideration in each stage of the procurement process. In addition, the Ministry maintains the CSRkompassi.fi website (available in Finnish and Swedish, some material also in English), with information and material for taking social aspects into consideration in long production chains related to public procurement.

In connection with the consultations organised by the working group, the idea of a statutory obligation to take social aspects into consideration in public procurement was presented. For instance, there is a federal obligation in the United States to include terms on the prohibition of the worst forms of forced labour and child labour in public procurement. In Finland, procurement legislation is procedural in nature, and it makes no statement on what is procured or on what terms. It provides guidelines for the types of procedures that should be used in order for the procurement process to meet the legal principles related to transparency, non-discrimination and equality. There are approximately 30,000 to 40,000 procurement objects, which means that setting a categorical obligation for all procurement may lead to significant challenges in an individual procurement. A categorical obligation would produce the need to allocate monitoring resources to procurement with only a small risk related to human rights impacts. The third challenge related to the proposal is the functionality of the compelling guiding methods. Some of the state procurement is made through Hansel Ltd., and some directly from agencies and ministries. Except for procurement legislation, the state has no other power to guide municipal procurement.

The Act on Public Contracts is currently being amended on EU directives so that social aspects can be taken into consideration more easily in the future.

As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that

  • references to Section 49 of the Act on Public Contracts and to the Guide to socially responsible procurement be added to the procurement guidelines for ministries; and
  • the responsibility themes in the state procurement manual be updated;
  • in connection with the reform of the public procurement online notification service “Hilma”, a field be added to the sections containing procurement data to indicate whether social aspects have been taken into consideration in the procurement. This would improve statistics related to social procurement and encourage the consideration of social aspects in the future.
  • A report will be made on the product groups that pose the highest risk for human rights violations. The report would increase the awareness related to responsible procurement and help target the consideration of the social aspect for the product groups that pose the highest risk.
  • Finland promotes socially responsible public procurement in the EU by distributing information and experiences of Finnish practices.
    Principal responsible parties: Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, schedule by the end of 2015.”
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