Public Procurement, Culture and Mozzarella: 'Que Dici?'

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Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement 1 establishes rules on the procedures for procurement by contracting authorities with respect to public contracts as well as design contests, whose value is above the European thresholds. Next to purely economic goals, the Directive incorporates common societal goals and aims to contribute to environmental and social objectives and sustainable innovation as well. Directive 2014/24/EU does not refer to cultural considerations in general. It only contains a specific exclusion from the scope of application of the Directive for audiovisual or radio media services and indicates that a special regime is applicable to certain social and other specific services as it is believed that they have by their very nature a limited cross-border dimension. These ‘special’ services are provided within a national context that varies among the Member States due to different cultural traditions. For the procurement of works, supplies and services that do not fall within this special category, specific cultural considerations seem not to be warranted. While on the one hand, procurement procedures have to be applied in conformity with the principle of equal treatment so that all tenderers must have equality of opportunity when formulating their tenders, Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union holds that Member States are the principal actors in charge of the flowering of their cultures, that the EU should contribute to this and that it should respect the Member State’s national and regional diversity. This article will investigate whether and in how far Directive 2014/24/EU allows room for national contracting authorities to explicitly and implicitly take cultural concerns into account in procurement procedures. The purchase of ‘Mozzarella’ by means of a procurement procedure will serve as an example to analyse whether cultural considerations can implicitly play a role to overcome the ‘buy local’ prohibition, even for products that enjoy a protected designation of origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-219
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Procurement & Public Private Partnership Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2021


  • culture
  • Directive 2014/24/EU
  • equal treatment
  • public interest


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