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20 December 2011 |
The opportunity to
negotiate more with suppliers and a “drastic cut” in paperwork are among
proposed changes contained in the European Commission’s (EC) major reform of
public procurement rules.
Other amendments put
forward by the EC in proposals published today include reducing the number of
tender notices that local and regional authorities need to publish, shorter
deadlines to complete tenders and the full use of e-procurement within two
The ideas follow almost 12 months of work by the EC,
incorporating the views and suggestions of buyers, suppliers, and politicians.
"This reform is necessary, ambitious
and realistic,” said Michel Barnier, the commissioner for internal market and
services. “The current directives have proven their worth, but directives must
move with the times. I would like to make sure that the public procurement directives
become simpler and more effective and that they make life easier for those
whose daily work involves public procurement.”
If these reforms are accepted by member
states, the new rules should be in force by the 30 June 2014.
When it comes to increased negotiation, the
EC recognised this is more “risky” in terms of fairness, but said increased
flexibility would allow products and services to better meet the needs and
budgets of buyers. But there are several caveats – award criteria and minimum
requirements set out at the start cannot be altered and any amendments must be
communicated to all potential bidders.
Admin will be reduced by allowing suppliers
to self-certify, swearing that they meet the necessary requirements to bid.
Only winning bidders will be required to prove it. But buyers will also be
prohibited from asking for documents suppliers have submitted in the past four
years that are still valid. The EC claims reducing admin will save around €169
million a year collectively.
Commission has decided not to raise the value of thresholds – a change the UK
government had been campaigning for. The EC said as well as reducing the level
of transparency, increasing threshold values would put it in breach of
international agreements for open markets – and could cost the EU €30 billion
(£25 billion) if the values were doubled.
“We welcome the draft proposal – it
highlights the importance of straightforward, flexible rules and demonstrates how
this can be a catalyst for growth,” said cabinet office minister Francis Maude.
“It also recognises that we need to look at ways we can remove unnecessary,
disproportionate costs on lower value procurements – an area that is very
important for smaller firms.
“We will now continue to work with other
countries across Europe and seek to influence the final proposal so that it
works for British business of all types, including vital new business models
such as mutuals.”
The proposals also
essentially scrap (with a few exceptions) the classification of ‘part B’
services – such as health and education services – that previously benefitted
from a less onerous regulatory regime. The EC said this is “no longer
justified” given increases in cross-border trade.
The European public procurement market is
estimated to be worth around €420 billion (£351.6 billion) a year.