• Sweden's news in English
 

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
Crackdown on illegal streaming in Sweden
Popcorn remains legal in Sweden but a site with a similar name isn't. Photo: TT

Crackdown on illegal streaming in Sweden

Users of illegal movie and television series streaming sites in Sweden including Popcorn Time are set to be tracked by a Danish lawfirm representing "major Hollywood companies" and could face fines of around 2000 SEK ($231). READ  

Swedes' Easter holiday saved as strike called off
A strike threatening to hit Swedish holidayers has been called off. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Swedes' Easter holiday saved as strike called off

Tens of thousands of Swedes hoping to spend their Easter weekend in Helsinki can rest easily again, as a sympathy strike threatening to hit all passenger traffic between Sweden and Finland was called off late on Wednesday afternoon. READ  

April Fools' Day
April Fools' Day: The Local's 2015 gags
We had many readers fooled that a town in southern Sweden said "no" in a Scottish way. Photo: Shutterstock

April Fools' Day: The Local's 2015 gags

Did you spot our story about Swedes in a former Viking town sounding Scottish? It was one of a range of April Fools' Day jokes across The Local's network of nine European news sites. Have a laugh reading about our other red herrings. READ  

Analysis
Rocky six months for new Swedish PM Löfven
Swedish PM Stefan Löfven on a visit to the US. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Rocky six months for new Swedish PM Löfven

The Swedish centre-left coalition government's first six months in power since last year's general election have not been the whopping success that Prime Minister Stefan Löfven had been hoping for. READ  

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS
Negotiations between Swedish pilots' unions and SAS are ongoing. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS

A deal between Swedish pilots and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is being automatically extended a week at a time after the agreement ended at midnight on Tuesday. READ  

Presented by ConnectSweden
CEO: Bromma 'essential' for Skanska's success
Pierre Olofsson, CEO of Skanska Sweden. Photo: Skanska

CEO: Bromma 'essential' for Skanska's success

The future of Bromma Airport has sparked a torrent of political debate, with supporters arguing it’s essential for Sweden's connectivity. But it’s more than that, says Skanska Sweden’s CEO Pierre Olofsson. It’s also critical for work-life balance. READ  

Thousands lose global TV channels in Telia row
Several channels are affected. Photo: Telia

Thousands lose global TV channels in Telia row

Up to 700,000 households that subscribe to Nordic telecoms giant Telia’s television packages have seen several channels – including Eurosport – disappear due to a dispute with broadcaster SBS. READ  

April Fools' Day
Sweden's silliest April Fools' Day tricks
Could Swedish supermarket shelves look like this? Photo: TT

Sweden's silliest April Fools' Day tricks

Alcohol is set to be sold in a Swedish supermarket, buses are introducing 'selfie zones' and Malmö football club's new grass contains cannabis, if you believe the country's newspapers. Here's The Local's round-up of this year's April Fool gags. READ  

The Local List
Six super Swedish family Easter traditions
Easter witches in Sweden. Photo: Lena Granefelt/Image Bank Sweden

Six super Swedish family Easter traditions

The clocks have gone forward and the supermarket aisles are piled high with chocolate delights. It must be time for Easter. But what do secular Swedes do slightly differently to other nations when it comes to celebrating the festival? READ  

Presented by ConnectSweden
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world

ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world

Read The Local's ConnectSweden ambassador series, in which we interview prominent figures in Sweden's business, diplomatic, and cultural spheres to learn more about Sweden's place in the world, both literally and figuratively, and how international air connectivity affects perceptions of the country abroad. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
US spy agency to feature in new 'Stieg Larsson' book sequel
National
Beaver bite at Swedish bus stop
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
Property of the week: Åreda
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm is the 'Boston of Europe'
Blog updates

27 March

Celebrating Three Great English Exports In 2015 (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Deputy Head of Mission Aidan Liddle joins us for another guest blog today. In 2015, England..." READ »

 

27 March

Editor’s blog, March 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Europe remains in shock following the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps that killed 150..." READ »

 
 
 
National
How this Syrian travelled to Sweden
Was Swedish TV host too harsh on nationalist leader Åkesson?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
National
Travelling over Easter? Don't miss our guide to rail disruption
Scandinavian airlines change cockpit rules after Greenwings crash
National
Sweden remembers Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer
Politics
Why petrol prices are going up
Gallery
People-watching: March 28th
What's on in Sweden: March 26th - April 2nd
Stieg Larsson's partner blasts Millennium trilogy sequel
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
National
Is this house 'un-Swedish'?
National
Sweden pays tribute to victims of Germanwings Alps crash
National
Neo-Nazi activity rising in Sweden
National
How to make Swedish Waffles
Gallery
Property of the week: Torslanda - Hjuvik
National
Stray dog Arthur moves in with Swedish owners
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Sweden triples maximum limit at asylum centres
Gallery
People-watching: March 21st
National
Why elderly Swedes are among the world's happiest people
National
TIMELINE: Gothenburg shootings
National
Can Sweden's feminist party score success in neighbouring Norway?
National
Why Brits can't get enough of Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's solar eclipse
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Royal wedding countdown begins
National
Viking ring reveals Islamic ties
National
TIMELINE: Julian Assange sex allegations in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: March 18th
National
One in three Russian diplomats are spies, says Sweden's Security Service
National
Hitchcock opera set to hit Gothenburg stage
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Northern Lights on show across Sweden
Technology
Why Swedish pop star Robyn is pushing for more girls in tech
Gallery
Property of the week: Umeå
National
Introducing Sweden's Eurovision 2015 entry Måns Zelmerlöw
Gallery
People-watching: March 13th - 15th
National
Why have Swedish prosecutors made a U-turn in Julian Assange case?
Sponsored Article
How Sweden and India can work together
Politics
Who's the new young leader of the Christian Democrats?
Travel
Why are Swedes so obsessed with Mallorca?
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

3,442
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