Already in 2019, there have been two significant developments in the EU policy framework that supports green public procurement for transport. First, the European Commission published new Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria for transport. This was followed by the Council (representing the EU’s Member States) and the European Parliament reaching an agreement on the form of the revised Clean Vehicle Directive. TEPR supported the European Commission in the development of both of these initiatives. 

Potential of GPP

GPP has a potentially significant role to play in developing the market for greener, less polluting products. Public authorities’ expenditure is equivalent to approximately 14% of the Gross Domestic Product of the whole of the EU1. If this purchasing power can be harnessed to support the green economy, there could be significant benefits.  

If public authorities purchase cleaner vehicles, it will help to stimulate the market for such vehicles by ensuring that manufacturers have customers for the cleaner vehicles that they produce. Using these vehicles on the street of a town or city will help to reduce emissions from transport, thus helping to improve air quality and to reduce a city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The presence of clean vehicles on a city’s streets will help to raise awareness of environmental issues and solutions, as well as enabling the local authority to lead by example.

In turn, the growth in the market for cleaner vehicles will help to deliver economies of scale that will lead to lower production costs and lower prices, paving the way for the wider uptake of cleaner vehicles. 

GPP Criteria for Transport

The new set of GPP criteria for road transport provide public authorities with a ready-made set of criteria that they can apply when buying vehicles and related services. They consist of a set of core criteria, which any public authority might apply, as well as a set of comprehensive criteria for public authorities that want to go further in improving the environmental performance of vehicles and associated services. 

The criteria are only voluntary – public authorities can choose to adopt whatever elements of the guidelines they wish to. However, for those public authorities that are interested in applying green criteria to their purchase of transport vehicles and services, the guidelines provide a set of criteria that can be used and which will help to improve the environmental performance of transport in their cities. 

Clean Vehicle Directive

The original Clean Vehicle Directive dated from 2009. An evaluation of its impacts in 2015 concluded that the CVD had not been that effective. However, there was support to amend the Directive as a result of the continuing need to increase the market for clean vehicles, as well as the potential benefits of GPP (as noted above). As a result, the European Commission proposed a new approach to the CVD, based on setting Member State-specific targets for the procurement of clean vehicles. This approach has now largely been agreed by the Council and European Parliament.  

TEPR Contributions

TEPR supported the European Commission in the development of the latest set of GPP criteria for transport. This involved the development of a Technical Report that included policy analysis, literature review and stakeholder engagement. TEPR also supported the European Commission in developing the new, target-based framework that is the core of the revised CVD, which followed on from the evaluation of the CVD to which TEPR also contributed.  The various reports can be found on TEPR’s GPP page.

If you’d like to talk to TEPR about this work, please contact Ian Skinner on +44 (0)7521 063324.


1 European Commission (2016) “Buying Green: A handbook on green public procurement”, 3rd edition



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