• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

EU yields power to school-lunch activists

Ann Törnkvist · 15 Jan 2014, 16:22

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." 

Story continues below…

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
Sweden murder probe after refugee centre death
One person had been detained and other potential witnesses were being questioned. Photo: TT

Swedish police on Sunday launched a murder investigation after a young woman was found dead at a shelter housing asylum-seekers.

Sweden trials electrified highway for trucks
The truck draws power as it moves at speeds of up to 90km/h (56mph) while putting out no emissions. Photo: Scania AB

The Swedish truck firm Scania, in partnership with German engineering company, Siemens, is developing the world’s first “eHighway”, a four kilometre stretch of highway north of Stockholm.

Brexit vote
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Anna Kinberg Batra, of the largest opposition party, the Moderates. Photo: TT

"This is a sad day for the British and for Europe."

Brexit vote
Swedish PM swats aside calls for EU renegotiation
"Sweden will now lose an important partner in the EU," Löfven said. Photo: TT

Left Party calls "totally irresponsible."

Brexit vote
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote

Expat Brits in Sweden have reacted with shock, despair and uncertainty to the result of the EU referendum in the UK which was won 52-48 by the Leave campaign.

Brexit vote
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
Photo: TT

The former Swedish EU minister, Birgitta Ohlsson declared that it was 'a morning of sorrow', after British voters opted to leave the European Union on Thursday.

The Local Recipes
How to make Karin's delicious Midsummer cake
Karin's cake. Photo: swedishfood.com

"We are very tolerant of other cultures except when it comes to strawberries."

Sweden named the world's 'most reputable' country
The flag of the world's most reputable country – at least according to one report. Photo: Fredrik Sanberg/TT

Sweden has been ranked as the most reputable country in the world by a new report. Find out why.

Why most students don't finish Swedish for Immigrants
More students are taking Swedish for Immigrants classes, but completion rates are low. Photo: Pontus Lundahl

Only four in ten students finished their courses at Sweden's state-funded Swedish for Immigrants classes in 2015, according to new statistics from a national agency.

Swedish police nab drunk-driving lawnmower man
Lawnmowers: dangerous, in the wrong hands. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

A man in southern Sweden is at risk of having his licence revoked after drunkenly driving a motorized lawnmower.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Blog updates

17 June

Queen’s Birthday Stockholm 2016: 9th June. 90th Birthday. 900 Guests! (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"What do you do when you read that the Queen’s 90th Birthday in London will be…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
The Local Voices
Orlando reflections: Is it possible to be gay and Muslim?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Sweden to go ahead with migrant age tests
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th-19th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm school celebrates Nepal Project success
National
Will you be hit by changes to Sweden's residency laws?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
The Local Voices
Why an Iraqi who won Swedish lottery won't quit his restaurant job
Gallery
People-watching: Midweek revellers
National
Why this pizzeria is giving elderly Swedes free meatballs
3,313
jobs available
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