SM blog highlights EU buying laws controversy

2 September 2010

2 September 2010 | Lindsay Clark

A debate over the value of EU public procurement rules, and whether they should be scrapped, has been raging on the SM website.

It follows a blog post last week by regular contributor Dave Henshall, president of consultancy Purchasing Practice. He posed the question “Should government abandon the OJEU?” and more than two dozen replies followed. Many condemned the rules, which are designed to ensure fairness and openness in EU public sector tendering.

“This whole system is dire and counterproductive,” said business travel expert and former Hogg Robinson managing director, Mike Platt, in a typical response. “It costs everyone too much money, restricts ability to bid productively, undermines confidentiality and usually provides the wrong solution. [It is] a recipe for disaster. Apart from that it is fine...and I am being serious.”

However, Roy Ayliffe, head of commerce at the National Audit Office, pointed out there was often a misunderstanding when people vented frustration with the laws. “EU procurement directives have never been, and will never be, intended for the benefit of public sector buying organisations,” he said.

“They are intended to benefit the private sector selling organisations in several ways, including more opportunities to be considered at all, more chances for SMEs, more chances for export and more recently more opportunities to demonstrate innovation.”

The public procurement rules were thrust into the limelight in the UK when the then Conservative opposition singled them out as wasteful before May’s general election. At the time, industry leaders wrote to The Telegraph newspaper to call for “arcane procurement rules” to be abolished.

You can follow the ongoing discussion and add your views to the blog here.

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