EU public procurement legislation can help protect workers' rights in global supply chains, study finds

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17 December 2018

Third-world workers' rights protected by EU procurement law - study

Author: University of Birmingham

Workers involved in fragmented production chains are increasingly exposed to exploitation, modern slavery and human rights violations... 

But the development of EU public procurement regulation has emerged as a useful tool to change the behaviour of firms, suppliers and contractors linked by Global Supply Chains (GSC) across different countries with varying legislation. 

Researchers at the University of Birmingham and Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich (LMU) have published their findings in Europe and the World: A law review...

Research by Dr Corvaglia and Kevin Li, of LMU, highlights the 2014 reforms of EU Procurement Directives as a key element in procurement regulation which is helping to improve working conditions and address violations of human rights abroad.

They point out that certification and labelling are important elements of new regulation practices making it possible to monitor and protect human rights and labour standards outside the jurisdiction of the procuring country...

”The EU Procurement Directives open many opportunities for achieving social and labour policies in public procurement,” said Dr Corvaglia. ”The government agency considers the human rights and labour conditions of supplying companies located abroad when making its decision – directly influencing the behaviour of companies within the supply chain.”

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10 October 2018

Extraterritoriality and public procurement regulation in the context of global supply chains’ governance

Author: Maria Anna Corvaglia and Kevin Li, Europe and the World: A law review

With the globalisation of supply chains, the respect for human rights and labour standards in procurement practices has become a crucial priority also in the domestic regulation of public procurement. This paper focuses on two specific characteristics of the use of public procurement regulation for the enforcement of human rights and labour standards: its extraterritorial effects on companies and firms across different jurisdictions and its reliance on private certifications and labels. Both of these new aspects are evident within the new 2014 EU Procurement Directives, which includes a number of far-reaching regulatory features that facilitate the monitoring of the respect for human rights and labour standards of contractors and subcontractors across borders. However, this new dimension of public procurement has the potential to create tension within the framework of multilateral trade governance, specifically, the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade regime.

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