06 December 2007 | Antony Barton
Public authorities need to divide their tenders into smaller lots and increase awareness of upcoming contracts to enable SMEs to become suppliers.
These are some of the findings in the European Commission's evaluation of SMEs' access to public procurement markets in the EU.
It found that medium-sized enterprises are performing relatively well in public procurement, but this is not the case with SMEs.
The report reveals only 38 per cent of awarding authorities "always" or "often" break up large contracts, which are often too demanding of SME resources.
It also says only 10 per cent of authorities publish prior information notices for contracts, which SMEs consider important to allow them time to prepare their applications.
As well as addressing these issues, it suggests awarding authorities make more use of e-procurement, which can reduce the transaction costs of preparing and submitting bids.
Gerhard Huemer, director for economic and fiscal policy at the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, said in a statement: "Better administrative rules are the only way to increase the share of public contracts awarded to SMEs in Europe. The EU procurement directives already provide a good legal basis in this respect - however, their potential is not sufficiently exploited."