28 May 2008 | Paul Snell
A pilot project has been launched by the European Commission (EC) to join up public e-procurement systems across the continent.
The Pan European Public Procurement On-line (PEPPOL) project will begin with eight states - Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Norway (as a member of the European Economic Area) - who have agreed to link up their existing electronic purchasing systems.
This will make it easier for small and medium sized firms to bid for cross-border contracts, as well as provide savings for buyers in administration and transaction costs.
Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said in a statement: "e-procurement already allows businesses to bid for the largest buyers in the EU: governments. By making sure their systems work together, member states are helping European businesses to win public sector contracts anywhere in the EU."
The EC will spend ?19 million (£15.1 million) on the project over the next three years, with ?9.8 million (£7.8 million) coming from the EC's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.
The UK government welcomed the PEPPOL project and said it was keen to see how it developed.
An OGC spokesman told supplymanagement.com: "The OGC is currently embarked on a project to investigate, and provide remedy against, any barriers that might exist for small and medium sized businesses accessing public sector contracts, and we will watch with interest the outcomes of the project and feed any relevant learning into our activity to support this key supplier base."