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Barcelona City Council Decree for Socially Responsible Public Procurement (Spain)



The Barcelona City Council Decree for Socially Responsible Public Procurement was designed to tackle the city’s increasing unemployment, in particular for people with the most pressing socio-economic needs, including: unemployed people receiving no form of income (representing half of all unemployed), unemployed youth, and people living below the poverty line. The Decree aims to turn public procurement into an effective instrument for serving the most vulnerable and has earmarked EUR 500 million for public contracts, using only the City Council’s budgetary and human resources.


The initiative arose from the major concern over Barcelona’s increasing unemployment figures, which soared from 6.7% in 2007 to 18.1% in 2013.

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Social clauses for public procurement contracts were adopted through a participatory process and include:

  • Reserved contracts for special employment centres and WISEs, amounting to EUR 8 million per year allocated through the Barcelona social reserve fund.
  • The condition that bidding organisations (with 50 or more employees) must prove that at least 2% of their workers experience at least 33% disability; that at least 5% of the awarded companies’ staff connected with the contract are people struggling to enter the job market; that at least 5% of the awarded company's contract budget is used to subcontract the services of special employment centres and WISEs. The companies that exceed these targets are awarded higher scores.
  • Establishment of environmental criteria for all aspects of bidding organisations’ operations and purchasing.

The Mixed Commission for Social Responsible Procurement, which led the participatory process for the development of the Decree, has continued to meet regularly since its adoption to assess implementation and suggest improvements.


In its first year of implementation (2015), 75% of all published contracts incorporated the stipulated social clauses and 770 people in situations of social exclusion, or at risk of social exclusion, benefited from the Decree. Many municipalities in the country further replicated the methodology, text and structure applied in Barcelona. As of March 2018, the Decree has yet to reach its full impact, in particular since many city administrations’ multi-annual contracts will only incorporate the social criteria when they come up for renewal.

This case study was adapted from a longer piece that was published in the OECD/EC (2017), Boosting Social Enterprise Development: Good Practice Compendium. For additional information and details, please refer to the original publication