03 Mar 2015, 12:30 - 13:30, Anna Nussbaum Auditorium, WTI, Bern

Is there an interplay between Sustainable Public Procurement and Corporate Social Responsibility when dealing with supply chain management?

Brown Bag Seminar by Marc Steiner, Swiss Federal Administrative Court, St. Gallen.


The WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) is considered to be the most relevant international legal framework when assessing public procurement practice (not only of industrial countries). The revised "sustainable" GPA ("green" technical specifications and award criteria) entered into force April 2014. There is an argument, according to which there is a wide (or a wider) margin for purchasing public entities to consider the production process in the context of the GPA compared to classical WTO law. This might not be evident at first glance from the perspective of a WTO lawyer used to the PPM debate, but not used to the public procurement context. The explanation is that there is a significant difference between an import ban and public procurement. The regulatory behaviour of public entities, for instance an import ban, leads to a limitation of the margin wherein (private) consumer choice can be exercised, whereas government procurement implies choices of the public authorities acting as consumers themselves. The explicit reference to environmental aspects within public procurement is perfectly in line with the new "sustainable" EU public procurement directives. The ILO Core Labour Standards are a possible exclusion ground according to the new EU directives. The same exclusion ground is foreseen in Switzerland not only for the federal, but in the near future also for the cantonal level. Assuming that Green Public Procurement and ILO Core Labour Standards (or even fair trade issues) are gaining momentum in public procurement are there (legal?) arguments when discussing a possible benchmark situation between public entities (public supply chain management) and Corporate Social Responsibility concepts of economic players? The joint CSR-Roundtable ILO/OECD/UNCTAD on this issue (http://www.csrroundtable.org/round-tables/2014-round-table/) might be interpreted as a signal of rising awareness.



Biography of the Speaker

Marc Steiner holds a Master of Law from the University of Basel and is admitted to the bar. He has delivered an expertise on Green Public Pro­cure­ment in Switzer­land (2006) and issued a short working paper on how to integrate social aspects in public procurement processes (2009, 2nd version 2010). He was appointed as a judge to the Swiss Federal Admini­strative Court in 2007 (2nd Division, primarily in charge of economic matters including pub­lic procure­ment and competition). His comparative approach was stimu­lated especially during two internships at the ECJ (1996 and 2008). He is one of four co-authors of the standard reference work on the practice of public procurement in Switzerland ("Praxis des öffentlichen Beschaffungsrechts", 3rd edition 2013). Furthermore, Marc Steiner was invited to act as an expert during the public hearing of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament on "Modernisation of Public Procurement" (May 2011). He also contributed to the revised UNEP Guidelines on the Implementation of Sustainable Public Procurement (2012). Marc Steiner is a member of the Advisory Board of Trans­parency International (Swiss Chapter) focusing on integrity in the government procurement process and at the same time a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of swisscleantech, the Swiss association for stakeholders in the green economy, dealing with sustainable (public) procurement issues.