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New study highlights strategies to tackle undeclared work in EU public procurement

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The ELA's comprehensive analysis offers actionable insights and tools for preventing undeclared work in public sector contracts.


The ELA has released a study on preventing undeclared work within public procurement contracts. Based on extensive desk research and an online survey conducted in November 2023 across Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, and Poland, the study examines the presence of undeclared work when public sector bodies purchase goods and services from private businesses, and proposes effective measures to mitigate this issue.

The study had several key objectives:

  • Overview of EU legislation: it provides a detailed examination of the EU’s public procurement legislative framework and its potential impact on tackling undeclared work.
  • Procurement procedures and undeclared work: It explores whether the extent of undeclared work in public procurement correlates with the type of procedure used, the qualitative criteria applied, the labor intensity, and other sector-specific characteristics.
  • Control mechanisms: It investigates how contracting authorities enforce social clauses and labor law provisions throughout the procurement process, from planning and evaluation to implementation, and the tools they employ to prevent undeclared work.
  • Challenges and solutions: It identifies the challenges in preventing undeclared work when designing and executing public procurement contracts, and offers practical tips to overcome these obstacles.

Key findings and recommendations from the study include:

  • Labour law conditionalities: the inclusion of labour law conditions and the monitoring of quality and social aspects throughout the procurement stages are crucial for combating undeclared work.
  • Qualitative requirements: emphasizing qualitative requirements over the lowest price criterion helps reduce undeclared work in supply chains.
  • Stakeholders' consultations: engaging with stakeholders enhances understanding of the market landscape and the risks of undeclared work, leading to more informed and effective procurement decisions.
  • Balancing administrative burden: finding the right balance between administrative demands and the need for conditions against undeclared work is essential.
  • Operationalizing Directive 2014/24/EU: further implementation of Directive 2014/24/EU could be achieved by developing internal procedures, guidelines, checklists, and manuals for contracting authorities.

Report on evaluating policy responses to prevent undeclared work in public procurement contracts (2024)

English (1.04 MB - PDF)