Social Criteria are Permissible in Timber Procurement PolicyFrom FERN EU Forest Watch: A draft report of the EU ad hoc working group (AHWG) on timber procurement policy was presented at the Standing Forestry Committee meeting on 3 December 2010. It acknowledges that social criteria could be an intrinsic part of procurement policies prescribing legal and sustainable timber. It is also clear that the three components of sustainability – social, environmental and economic are integrated and cannot be separated.
The report indicates that problems with implementing sustainable procurement policies stem from a lack of clarity about the requirements of EU law such as which criteria are permissible, particularly when it comes to the social aspects of sustainable forest management. Significantly however, it also stresses that criteria under all three pillars of sustainable production are appropriate during the main phases of the tendering procedure (technical specifications and/or the award stage) of wood and wood products.
The AHWG became operational in March 2009 to enable Member States, Commission services, and stakeholders to exchange experiences with regards to timber procurement policies with the end goal of making Member States’ approaches more compatible. It is therefore positive that its report affirms that criteria under all three pillars of sustainable production are appropriate as technical specifications and award criteria. The AHWG’s statement is in line with a legal analysis produced by ClientEarth in June 2010, which focuses on social criteria in public procurement policies for legal and sustainable timber.
The draft AHWG report has been forwarded to the Standing Forestry Committee, FERN feels that the European Commission should seriously consider the positive findings of the working group in its upcoming evaluation of the Procurement Directives.
Source: FERN EU Forest Watch Issue 155 December 2010