30 October 2006 | Paul Snell
The increased use of public private partnerships (PPP) is a "potential threat" to small firms.
That is the view of the UEAPME (European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), an organisation representing small businesses in Europe.
It claimed the scale of tenders and contracts of most PPP projects are so large that they discriminate against SMEs.
The group has urged the European Commission to make certain future PPP legislation ensures SMEs are included and to guarantee transparency in the tender process.
The UEAPME claimed EU countries with strong regional purchasing structures were more accessible to SMEs than those with centralised functions. It said the EC should review the situation in all EU member states and publish good examples of where tendering is accessible to SMEs.
The UEAPME is also supporting the campaign to obtain an exemption from the World Trade Organisation's 'Government Procurement Agreement'. If the EU opts out of the agreement member states would be allowed to set aside a proportion of work to be awarded to SMEs.