07 September 2007 | Antony Barton
EU countries must do more to improve smaller businesses' access to public procurement contracts, according to MEPs.
A report created by Jacques Toubon MEP and accepted by the European Parliament calls on the European Commission to encourage member states to improve access for SMEs and to apply "pre-commercial procurement to improve the innovative capacity of the Single Market".
An EU spokesman explained that the term "pre-commercial procurement" describes public sector procurement of innovative products or services in need of further research, rather than the purchase of established products.
The report on the commission's ongoing review of the Single Market also calls on member states to make full use of the principle of mutual recognition to ensure the free movement of goods between countries. Proposed reforms include harmonisation in areas such as retail financial services, such as payment, and taxation.
Toubon also says present VAT and excise duty systems are a barrier to the completion of the Single Market, particularly in cross-border trade.
The European Parliament adopted the report by 534 votes in favour, 119 against and 27 abstentions.