Public procurement regulation in the EU has traditionally served the aim of opening domestic markets to EU-wide competition. Since 1971, secondary EU (then EEC) law rules have provided for open and transparent contract award procedures geared at tearing down protectionist barriers. EU public procurement rules thus regulate ‘how to buy’. It is for the Member States and their contracting authorities to decide “what to buy”, provided that in their choices they do not infringe the general EU Treaties provisions on the internal market and specific EU secondary rules

This hands-off approach has been turned on its head by and following the European Green Deal. Faced with the need to change linear production and consumption models to address immense societal challenges such as global warming and climate change and to contribute to achieving the SDGs, the European Commission has tabled, and the European Parliament and the Council are approving a raft of legislative proposals making sustainable public procurement (henceforth SPP) mandatory in a growing number of sectors. In this way, EU law moves from regulating just “how to buy” into giving the Member States and their contracting authorities rules about “what to buy”.