• Sweden edition
 
EU yields power to school-lunch activists
Swedish pupils eating fish soup at school in Uddevalla. File: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

EU yields power to school-lunch activists

Published: 15 Jan 2014 10:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Jan 2014 16:22 GMT+01:00

The EU has spent the past two years looking at ways to modernize its public procurement rules, partly to allow smaller and medium-sized business to compete with bigger enterprises. Across the union, member states spend an average of 18 percent of GDP on buying services and goods.

"Directives must move with the times," European Commissioner for the Internal Market Michel Barnier commented at the time.

The final version cleared a European parliament vote on Wednesday, which will give Swedish local authorities more freedom to shop around as they see fit. A series of grass-roots revolts against procurement procedures have already popped up across Sweden, especially in relation to parents worried about their children's meals at school.

"I'm tired of them procuring without placing demands and only focusing on getting the cheapest deal possible," milk farmer and parent Britta Mattsson told the Upsala Nya Tidning (UNT) newspaper in October after she told her children's school their dietary requirement was to eat food produced according to domestic recommendations.

She referred her children's school to the guidelines published by SEMCo (Miljöstyrningsrådet), the government's expert body on environmental and sustainable procurement.

A dummy demand letter, to be sent to the local authorities, was posted on Facebook to show other parents how they can ask for school meals to be produced in accordance with Swedish standards. 

"I want my children to get the best food available. For example, they should not have to eat meat that could contain traces of antibiotics," Mattsson told UNT about her work to influence procurement in the eastern Swedish town of Östhammar. 

Further south, in Lidingö, near Stockholm, a group of parents incensed at the bare-boned ingredient labels available on food served to their children spoke up when the time came to choose the school's next meal provider. They had felt their concerns and wishes were ignored by the school principal. The parent's first objective was to rid school meals of additives.

As EU parliamentarians readied to vote on the new directive on Wednesday, Swedish MEP Jens Nilsson said the new directive would bestow more freedom in the tender process. 

"What's been bothering Swedish municipal politicians for fifteen years will today become much easier," he told the TT news agency. "You could say that power has been shifted to the procurer." 

The Social Democrat politician said that public authorities could now take into account not only environmental factors when buying goods and services, but look at whether production respected collective bargaining deals and other labour market issues. 

A former regional politician with experience from the procurement process, Nilsson said that Swedish lawyers had often over-interpreted the old EU procurement laws and unnecessarily shackled local leaders in their attempts to add demands to the tender process.

"What I experienced as a municipal politician was that the lawyers would all say the same thing: "Stop now, you can't write the specification that way, the EU doesn't allow it'," he recalled. "And then it turned out you could write specifications with those kind of demands in Denmark and in Italy, but not in Sweden." 

He accused the Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket), the country's anti-trust agency, of "not being fair".

"They've blamed stuff on the EU that has actually been homemade (policy)," Nilsson said. 

At SEMco, meanwhile, the government has identified more demanding public procurement as a potential money spinner for Sweden.

"(Green public procurement) can stimulate economic development and technical innovation, which may subsequently result in profitable exports in future markets that have high environmental demands," the agency notes on its website. 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Business
Phone 'contracts' cut by Sweden's Tele2
Photo: TT

Phone 'contracts' cut by Sweden's Tele2

One of Sweden's biggest mobile companies is scrapping long term call and data contracts for customers as part of what it says is the biggest change in the Swedish telecoms industry for 20 years. READ  

Sport
1.6 million Swedes are reeled in by fishing
Photo: Lief R Jansson/TT

1.6 million Swedes are reeled in by fishing

Fishing is one of Sweden's most popular hobbies in 2014, according to 'surprise' new figures released by Statistics Sweden. READ  

Julian Assange
Court rejects Assange arrest warrant appeal
Julian Assange. Photo: TT

Court rejects Assange arrest warrant appeal

A Stockholm court has upheld an arrest order for Julian Assange who is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes in Sweden. His lawyer has told The Local that he now plans to take the case to Sweden's Supreme Court. READ  

Julian Assange
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Julian Assange following a court hearing in 2010. Photo: TT

Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden where he is facing sex assault allegations. The Local looks at the key points in his case so far. READ  

Offbeat
'Wild' expats wanted for Nordic TV series
A frozen river in Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock

'Wild' expats wanted for Nordic TV series

People who have moved from the UK to remote corners of Scandinavia are set to appear in a new television series being filmed in 2015. READ  

International
Swedish PM has 'successful' Clinton talks
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the Clinton Foundation in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. AP Photo/Pontus Höök, Pool

Swedish PM has 'successful' Clinton talks

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven says he enjoyed a positive meeting with Hillary Clinton in New York on Wednesday, discussing topics including the Ukraine crisis and feminism, on the first day of his debut visit to the US since his election. READ  

Skåne
Large nursing shortages in southern Sweden
There are fears of staffing shortages in Skåne. File photo of a patient: Shutterstock

Large nursing shortages in southern Sweden

There are over 130 vacant nursing positions at Skåne University Hospital, leading to a shortage of beds for patients. READ  

Business
Half of young Swedes are in temporary jobs
Bar and restaurant staff often have temporary contracts. Photo: TT

Half of young Swedes are in temporary jobs

Under 25s in Sweden are increasingly being given fixed term contracts rather than permanent roles, according to new figures seen by Sweden's Trade Union Confederation, LO. READ  

What's On in Sweden
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
A Sami handler in traditional clothing. Photo: TT

What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th

Another weekend on the way and the temperature is fast plummeting. Here's our pick of the best things to do around Sweden as you wrap up this weekend - from the arrival of Sami winter to the largest photo fair in the Nordics. READ  

National
Man fined after filming kids in bathroom
File photo: Shutterstock

Man fined after filming kids in bathroom

A 47-year-old Swedish man who set up a camera in his own bathroom to film children using the toilet has been hit with a suspended sentence and a fine of over 20,000 kronor. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Blog updates

19 November

Coffee in Stockholm (Blogweiser) »

" Stockholm is full of quaint little cafés. I go to none of these. For coffee, I..." READ »

 

14 November

Editor’s blog, November 14th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, We’ve had a hectic Friday covering the Swedish military’s announcement that there was definitely a..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
National
Meet the Irish woman thundering into Swedish rock
Gallery
In Pictures: Ace of Base through the years
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
Gallery
People-watching: November 12th
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
National
Opinion: 'We have to talk about Sweden's Isis fighters'
Business & Money
Price hike for new mortgages in Sweden
National
Toy store catalogues 'too white' in Sweden
National
Pirate Bay co-founder released from prison
National
Southern Sweden had 201 days of summer
Gallery
Sweden's ten most powerful people
Gallery
Property of the week: Mariestad
National
Introducing... Healthcare in Stockholm
National
What you need to know about Stockholm hospital bug epidemic
Lifestyle
Young Serbian shouts for students in Sweden
Lifestyle
How to make your own chocolate kladdkaka
Gallery
People-watching: November 9th
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: November 7th - 14th
Society
The Local's Oliver Gee tries out Stockholm's 'therapy taxis'
National
Why is Stockholm's royal palace turning 'warm' pink?
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

828
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden