ABSTRACT

The importance of having a clear political philosophy underpinning political action in order to address fundamental questions regarding the public interest comes out clearly from this book. Ultimately, whatever philosophy the policymakers and legislators choose to embrace – or fail to embrace – will have an inescapable impact on the individual in relation to the society they live in. The discussion in the last chapter culminated in the production of a European theory of social justice that is in alignment with the European Union’s founding values. The theory has clear philosophical underpinnings that draw on natural law theory. It operates on the basis of principles and conditions that enable the flourishing of EU citizens by incorporating key values that are mutually reinforcing and cannot be disentangled – these values being respect for human dignity, equality, and freedom of participatory action. Evidently, such values have come into play only as a result of their impact upon the direct and indirect experiences that the European citizen is forced to endure vis-à-vis Europe’s public procurement regime. When it comes to understanding the extent to which the public procurement regime is serving the public interest, practical reasonableness leads us in a direction that suggests the human person is not just a mere subject, not just a means for balancing the equation of supply and demand. The human person entails respect for their dignity and for their human rights. It is in the very nature of human beings to build relationships and to interact with the community. And it is within this communion that the human person can aspire to the highest levels of accomplishment and flourishing. Public procurement contracts represent a special category – more specifically, they represent complex exchanges that occur in social relationships and which in the process are separated in part by the passage of time, wherein one of the parties represents the public interest. On the basis of the understandings deciphered by this book, it was noted that EU public procurement as a vital tool for promulgating the internal market comes at the expense of the public interest, insofar as the public interest function in question is one that seeks to achieve a common good in which the individual is seen as an end in itself and not as a means to an end – as is the case when Single Market integration aims appear as the ultimate objective. The author finds the latter position problematic since it

conflicts with European founding values wherein respect for human dignity necessitates that individuals be treated as an end in themselves and not as a means for achieving ulterior goals. On the one hand, EU public procurement is seen as serving as a tool that helps dislocate Europe’s founding values; while on the other hand it serves as the EU’s safety valve, modifying (and hence protecting, to a certain extent) the provision of public services from overwhelming market forces. The situation is untenable as long as it distances itself from permissible European ideals as contained within the Constitution. Respect for human dignity, equality, and freedom for participatory action all identify with the social conscience of the people of Europe.