EU bureaucracy puts brakes on tendering

24 June 2011

26 June 2011 | Adam Leach

The laws governing public procurement in the European Union (EU) are causing slow tendering processes and barring SMEs’ access to contracts, according to EU procurement professionals.

This was the view of the majority of the 620 stakeholders who gave their opinions in the European Commission (EC)’s Evaluation Report: Impact and Effectivenessof EU Public Procurement Legislation published on Friday (24 June).

The report said that while EU procurement legislation was effective at promoting transparency and competition – the current directives’ focus on increasing competition has saved public sector bodies €20 billion (£17.7 billion) so far – the level of bureaucracy within the directives was holding SMEs back.

Evidence from the report found a unanimous desire to see the amount of bureaucracy reduced in order to make negotiation procedures more flexible and cut the amount of paperwork in tendering. This increased flexibility was raised as particularly important with regard to supporting SMEs that currently struggle to handle the amount of red tape in bidding processes.

The report also raised concerns that the number of procedures and amount of paperwork caused significant problems. The results found that the average EU tendering process takes 108 days and costs €28,000 (£24,850), of which 75 per cent comes from the cost of preparing tenders. In addition, it found that the worst performing member states take three times longer than the best.

The findings from the report, and those of the EU’s green paper on modernising EU public procurement to which stakeholders were responding, will be discussed at an EC debate in Brussels on 30 June.

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