by Christopher Andersson, Forum Ideburna

More and more municipalities are choosing to enter agreements with civil society organizations through Value Based Partnerships (IOP). In Forums´ work with IOP many municipalities have expressed concern over the legal legitimacy of IOP. Through a newly published legal report we can state that this concern is unjustified. IPP: s entered for services that do not exist on a current market do not entail legal implications.   

Through a survey conducted by Forum – The national forum for voluntary organizations in Sweden and Price Waterhouse Coopers there are at least 53 active IOP: s throughout the country. For many of these organizations IOP affords them a higher level of financial security and a higher degree of reciprocity in comparison to other forms of grants or public procurement. The idea is that in situations where new challenges arise, that require different actors to interact and contribute knowledge, there is a need for a solution that is not based on procurement and market logics. A collaboration model which is not focused on financial transactions, and where financial return is not key. How this has affected civil society organizations is exemplified by the following quote from a spokeswoman for a women’s´ shelter.

“This shelter can now expand and be shelter for all kinds people, in all relationships, experiencing violence in their intimate relationships. The security of knowing what long term agreements and financial support we have is absolutely critical to this process”. (Gill Brodin. Economic manager Sigtuna womens shelter.)
A new report, developed together with the law firm Front Advokater, shows that the legal concerns that many municipalities express concerning IOP: s are unwarranted. There is space under EU law to enter into partnership agreements based on IOP framework, that is, when there is no market or competitive situation to maintain.


” It is clear that in the present situation hardly any commercial market for women’s shelters or the type of services which civil society organizations offer to help vulnerable EU migrants and the homeless exist. A member state (central, regional or at local level) is in this case not required to create a market of the non-economic service through public procurement aimed at competitive pricing and nurturing competition.”  (IOP – What possibilities does EU law allow? Front Advokater).


In Sweden organizations have expressed their support for IOP. Now that the legal framework has been clarified it is time for municipalities to listen to these voices. By entering IOP: s the necessary preconditions for many civil society organizations to expand their services in the face of monumental challenges are created.


Facts about Value Based Partnerships (IOP)

Value Based Partnerships are a non-market solution through a partnership agreement between one or several civil society organizations and one or several regional, local or national authorities. These relationships are built on the notion that not all social problems are best solved through competition and the provision of market based services. An IOP is especially suitable when:

  1. The operation is initiated by the civil society organization.
  2. The activity can be seen as a step in the realization of a political program or plan in which the civil society organizations is specifically mentioned.
  3. Both parties are involved in financing activities via money or other contributions.
  4. There is not a market or a competitive situation to nurture.
  5. Operations and activities are not regulated in detail by the public authority.