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2 August 2011 |
A plan to create
uniform e-procurement processes across the EU has won “considerable support”,
the European Commission (EC) has said.
Publishing the responses to its e-procurement consultation,
the EC found 53 per cent were in favour of making standardised e-procurement
mandatory at an EU level, while 42 per cent were opposed to the idea. The
remainder did not choose either option.
In a statement, the
EC said: “There is broad support for EU-level action, including the use of
legislation, to facilitate the use of standardised e-procurement solutions. A
small majority of respondents support the imposition of EU-level requirements
to use e-procurement.”
The publication of
the 77 responses to the consultation, which ran from October 2010 until 31January this year, also revealed that almost 60 per cent who submitted comments
consider “overcoming inertia and fear” to be the biggest barrier to the take-up
of e-procurement and to cross-border participation in online buying. Other
barriers were the “lack of standards” and “onerous technical requirements”.
The EC is now calling
for e-procurement specialists to join an expert group on e-tendering. It hopes
that by bringing together experts in the design and implementation of
e-purchasing systems, it can develop a blueprint for common solutions for the electronic
submission of offers by the end of 2012. The deadline for applications is 30
The EC will also
start to monitor the use of e-purchasing across member states to promote good
practice. It is currently tendering for an organisation to carry out such a study.
The commission believes a lack of information on e-procurement development
hampers its adoption, and hopes the research will help policy-makers at EU and
national governments assess progress in this area.
five to 10 years’ time, most public procurement administrations will be
electronic. We have to start preparing for that change now,” said Michel
Barnier, EU commissioner for Internal Market and Services,
who is responsible for driving the commission's initiatives in financial
services, public procurement, free movement of services, intellectual property
and professional qualifications. “At EU level, we have to ensure that the legal and policy environment
supports the switchover. The groundwork that I am launching is another
important step towards harnessing the power of technology for better
* Meanwhile, in response to EU plans to modernise public buying rules, the Cabinet Office has said the UK
government strongly agrees with the commission’s comment on the need for
streamlined and flexible procurement procedures. But it warned that the
consultation covers many topical issues and “there is a significant danger
that, in attempting to address so many, complexity will be added to the rules,
which would be the opposite of the overall aim of simplification”.
The UK government is pressing for greater clarity on what
can be regarded as “relevant to the subject matter of the contract” in order to
reduce burdens and risk by providing greater legal certainty for purchasers.
It also said revisions to EU public purchasing policy should
focus on reducing “lengthy and burdensome” buying processes that add cost to
business, provide more flexibility for purchasers to follow best practice
and aid access to public procurement by small and medium-sized businesses
(if non-discriminatory and consistent with a value-for-money approach).