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Launched on February 9th, at the initiative of the France urbaine, Agores, Lascaux European center for transitions and Manger demain networks, with the support of the cities of Brussels and Mouans Sartoux, the advocacy campaign aimed at re-articulating public purchasing and food resilience strategies was the subject of a new presentation. Alongside representatives of the European Committee of the Regions and other European networks such as Organic Cities, this was an opportunity to strengthen the European dimension of this work, which has now become well established in France and Belgium.

A step in line with numerous ongoing initiatives

On April 26th, Audrey Pulvar, Deputy Mayor of Paris, in charge of Agriculture, Sustainable Food and Local Supply Chains, Benoit Hellings, First Alderman of the City of Brussels in charge of Climate and Sports, Gilles Pérole, Deputy Mayor of Mouans-Sartoux in charge of Education, Food and Chairman of the Catering Commission of the Association of French mayors, Maurizio Mariani, Managing Director of Eating City, and Maxime Cordier, Vice-Chairman of Agores, discussed the collective plea launched in February.

Making public procurement a major lever for transforming production models is a concern that is spreading throughout Europe. This is borne out by a long-standing work of the European Committee of the Regions, which in 2023 issued an opinion on the legislative framework for sustainable food systems. In July 2023, the Committee reiterated “its call to eliminate existing constraints within its public procurement rules to apply sustainability criteria (…) points out that today public authorities wishing to include locally based suppliers and producers and support the regional food economy are risking legal action for potential infringement of common market rules, if they exploit existing loopholes; Clarification should be accompanied by guidance and training for regions and municipalities that are major public buyers;” and “underlines that public procurement of sustainable, healthy, seasonal and local food represents a powerful tool for transition to more sustainable food systems in line with the sustainability policies and the Sustainable Development Goals, and encourages the use of green public procurement (GPP) criteria;”

At the same time, the Buy better food campaign launched a manifesto to promote minimum criteria in public procurement.

More recently, in April 2024, four MEPs Dennis Radtke (EPP, German), Nikolaj Villumsen (La Gauche, Danish), Sara Matthieu (Greens/EFA, Belgian) and Agnes Jongerius (S&D, Dutch) launched the European Alliance for Public Procurement. This is a highly topical issue, with a view to making better use of Europe’s 2,000 billion euros in annual public procurement to shape the European economy, guarantee fair competition, take account of environmental impact and ensure decent working conditions.

An original plea that changes the framework of public procurement

Among all these initiatives, the plea launched in Liège is singular, points out Maxime Cordier, Vice-President of Agores. Combining the positions of elected representatives, legal experts and catering technicians, it is based on European case law. It proposes a new legal framework that goes beyond mere recommendations or guidelines, and clearly highlights the limits of current systems. It is not possible to assert without risk that public procurement is part of a local food and environmental resilience strategy. It is highly complex to use public purchasing as a tool to support the installation and maintenance of producers in a given area.

What’s next: events, replays and launch of our website

The presentation of the manifesto continues : in Liège on May 29th and 30th at the EU city-lab (registration still open) and also on May 14th at the Dynamic Food Procurement Days, bringing together different stakeholders from the Baltic States.

Signing the plea, which is open to legal entities, is still open until June 30th.

On April 26th, a dedicated website was launched in French and English :

The April 26 replay is available in English and French

An update on signatures – indicative and non-exhaustive list

This list is indicative, as some local authorities will soon be putting the subject on the agenda.

Local authorities, groups and other public players : Brussels, Namur Food Belt, Le Havre Seine metropolis, Marcoussis, Mouans Sartoux, Departement of Loire-Atlantique, cities and metropolis of Dijon, Strasbourg, Lyon, Nantes, Grenoble, Grand Paris Sud, Poitiers, Allonnes, Bègles, Harfleur, Grand Nancy, Paris, Territorial Pole Nord Yonne, Syndicat mixte de la grande tablée (Dole), Toulouse metropolis, Angers, Besançon, Fontenay-Sous-Bois, Montpellier, Saint-Denis, Clermont Ferrand and Clermont Auvergne métropole, « Erdre Cens Chezine Sustainable catering » public company, Dax Hospital, Entre Meurthe et Sanon Highschool,

Associations : Agores, Eating City, Centre Lascaux pour les transitions, France urbaine, Manger Demain, Mensa Civica, Terralim, Local public companies network

Economic players : Organic food network Ile de France, Solidaris (mutual insurance company), Peasant Agriculture Solidarity Purchasing Groups…