Revised procurement rules will feature less red tape, says EC

27 January 2011

27 January 2011 | Paul Snell

Click here to read what senior procurement lawyers think of the changes

The European Commission (EC) has pledged to reduce the red tape that surrounds public procurement rules.

Speaking at the launch of a green paper andconsultation on the modernisation of the regulations this morning, Michel Barnier, commissioner for internal market and services, said current purchasing regulations need to be simplified and adapted to meet the changing needs of buyers.

"We need to clarify public procurement rules to make life easier for both public authorities and companies bidding for contracts in Europe,” he said. “Access of smaller companies to procurement markets, reducing red tape, or promoting European cross-border procurement will be under the spotlight during the consultation. My ambition is also to make sure that public procurement can help job creation, innovation, and protection of the environment."

Barnier emphasised the green paper is intended as an open debate, and the EC says it is undertaken “without any preconceived approach”. But should the suggestions included feed into legislation – due in 2012 – they could radically change the way public buyers perform their jobs.

Amendments to the rules could allow for greater negotiation with suppliers during the procurement process, an end to the division between the selection and award criteria stages of a tender and less strict rules on advertising contract opportunities for buyers working at smaller contracting authorities.

But buyers may also face the prospect of compulsory publication of information documenting the tender process to increase transparency or mandatory requirements on what they actually have to buy to achieve policy objectives, such as increasing innovation or improving the environment.

There are also recommendations to provide better access to contracts for SMEs, reduce corruption and favouritism, and even to introduce the automatic translation of OJEU notices into other languages to boost opportunities for vendors across the continent.

Responses to the consultation, along with an evaluation of the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the current regulations currently undertaken by the EC, which will be published this summer, will form part of legislation in 2012.

Those wishing to contribute to the consultation have until 18 April to email MARKT-CONSULT-PP-REFORM@ec.europa.eu with their response.

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