Reserved Contracts, plus your last chance to register for our EPAP side event!

As announced in our Social Compass newsletter of last week, on November 20, from 15:00 to 17:30, in the framework of the Convention of the European Platform Against Poverty (EPAP), we are organising a side event entitled ‘Social Economy Enterprises and public procurement:a win-win combination for social inclusion!’ The event is organised by our member ENSIE (European Network of Social Integration Enterprises), in cooperation with us, Eurodiaconia, CECOP (European Confederation of Workers’ Co-operatives, Social Co-operatives and Social and Participative Enterprises), and the European Network of Cities and Regions for the Social Economy (REVES). You can view the program here. You can register for this side-event until Friday October 31 by sending an email to (please indicate your name, surname, organisation, phone no. and email).

As mentioned last week, in order to facilitate understanding of the new directive and social economy enterprises, this article marks the first in a series of three focusing on one specific opportunity that the new public procurement directive provides for social economy enterprises and non-profit service providers to promote social inclusion objectives.

Today we will focus on ‘reserved contracts’ for economic operators (including social economy enterprises) whose main aim is the social and professional integration of persons with disabilities and disadvantaged persons. ‘Reserved contract’ means that contracting authorities can choose to restrict some tendering procedures for the purchase of some goods, works or services to sheltered workshops and economic operators whose main aim is the social and professional integration of persons with disabilities and disadvantaged persons.

We are talking about article 20. This opportunity is not new (art. 19 of the 2004 Directive) but there are two important changes with the new article: the scope is enlarged to disadvantaged persons (while previously it was only for persons with disabilities) and the minimum percentage of this type of workers required is decreased from 50% to 30%.

This new proposal will guarantee a more effective and more sustainable integration of persons with disabilities and disadvantaged persons and at the same time increase the economic performance of sheltered workshops and economic operators, thereby contributing to the long term dimension of social and professional integration. In some member states, legislation is in place that sets obligations for public and private employers to employ a percentage of persons with disabilities according to the size of the enterprise. However, official statistics show that businesses prefer to pay penalties instead of complying with law, with the end result that integration of persons with disabilities in the labour market is very difficult.

Article 20 is not compulsory for member states, who might decide not to transpose it into their national laws. On the contrary, Social Platform, ENSIE, CECOP, Eurodiaconia and REVES recommend member states to transpose it.

During the evaluation of bids, contracting authorities should verify that the integration of persons with disabilities and disadvantaged persons is stated as primary mission in the statues or other statutory documents of the applicant organisation. This is to avoid opportunistic behaviours from enterprises employing disabled or disadvantaged persons only during the contracting period.