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Towards socially sustainable public procurement, 22 January 2013

International conference

On Tuesday 22 January 2013, the Section Business and Labour Law of the Department of Corporate and European Law of the University of Groningen, the Groningen Centre for Law and Governance, and the Department of Labour Law and Social Policy of Tilburg University will jointly host an international conference, in Groningen, the Netherlands. Admission to this conference is free of charge.

Venue: Hanze Sociëteit, Oude Boteringestraat 19, Groningen


Public procurement represents about 18% of the GDP of EU Member States. Government contracts for e.g. public works can thus be a very significant tool to achieve socio-economic objectives. Traditionally, many national and local contracting authorities use tenders to steer the market in a socially responsible direction. Examples are the promotion of employment for persons with disabilities and so-called ‘social clauses’ in government contracts.

Since the early 1990’s, EU public procurement rules have opened up national markets by establishing a transnational competition between enterprises across the EU. This EU legal framework allows but limits the flexibility of Member States to take social aspects on board. Furthermore, case law of the CJEU restricts options for public entities to prescribe locally prevailing employment conditions to cross-border contractors. Regarding posted workers, social clauses should be limited to the core standards stipulated in the Posting of Workers Directive (PWD). This can lead to competition on labour costs with local firms that are bound by local employment standards in full. Moreover, there is growing evidence of exploitative practices in the lower segments of cross-border subcontracting chains, where labour is so cheap that it is clearly impossible to respect even the core standards, such as the applicable minimum wage in the host Member State.

From a multilevel governance perspective, this conference focuses firstly on the way how national and local public entities in Sweden, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands try to safeguard social policy interests in their public procurement governance. Secondly, the conference zooms in on possibilities and efforts to enhance the guaranteeing of worker’s rights in subcontracting processes. Recent legislative proposals in the field of EU public procurement law and regarding the enforcement of the PWD will be part of the discussion.



Registration and tea/coffee


Welcome and introductory remarks
Mijke Houwerzijl, Professor of European and comparative labour law, University of Groningen and Professor of Labour Law at Tilburg University

Session I: Strategic use of public procurement in support of social policy objectives


Herman Voogsgeerd, Associate professor at the Dept. of labour law and business law, University of Groningen


Developments in Sweden in the aftermath of the Laval judgment
Kerstin Ahlberg, Institute for Social Private Law, Faculty of Law, Stockholm University


Developments in Germany in the aftermath of the Rüffert judgment
Wolfgang Däubler, Emeritus professor of Labour Law, Universität Bremen


Developments in Great Britain in the aftermath of the Lindsey Oil Refinery dispute
Catherine Barnard, Professor of European Union Law, Cambridge University
Amy Ludlow, PhD-candidate, Faculty of Law, Cambridge University


Developments in the Netherlands: the Eemshaven case and ‘social return’
Petra Oden, Professor of the Centre for Applied Labour Market Research and Innovation at Hanze UAS Groningen




Round table and discussion with the audience


Sandwich lunch

Session II: Assisting and promoting compliance with social and labour rights, notably in subcontracting processes


Gijs Vonk, Professor of Social Security Law, University of Groningen


How to get access to workers on building sites? Findings of empirical research on two construction sites (Eemshaven (NL) and the European Central Bank (DE)
Ines Wagner and Lisa Berntsen, Transnational Work and the Evolution of Sovereignty (PhD-)Projects, Dept. of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä, Finland & Dept. of Global Economics and Management, University of Groningen.


Enhancing information and consultation rights of workers involved in subcontracting processes
Jan Buelens, lawyer in Antwerp (Belgium) and researcher at the University of Antwerp


Round table and discussion with the audience


Closing remarks




End of conference

The round tables include commentators Stein Evju, Professor of Labour Law, University of Oslo, Aukje van Hoek, Professor of Private International Law, University of Amsterdam, Danuta Jazłowiecka, Member of European Parliament.


This conference is co-hosted and funded by the Groningen Centre for Law and Governance


You may register for this conference by sending an e-mail to Please include your name, professional address, telephone, e-mail address. Attention: seating is limited!

Admission to the conference is free of charge.

All participants are cordially invited to attend the inaugural lecture of Prof. Mijke Houwerzijl which will take place after the conference at 16.15 at the Aula Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen.

Conference location

The conference is held at the Hanze Sociëteit, Oude Boteringestraat 19 right in the centre of Groningen. The Hanze Sociëteit is a 10-minute walk from the train station (about 1 kilometer). There is a direct connection from Schiphol International Airport to Groningen train station (a 2,5 hour journey).


If you have any questions about the conference please contact us at: .

Laatst gewijzigd:15 februari 2018 13:24