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10 October 2011 | Angeline Albert
The EU should follow the US’ ‘SME-friendly’ public
procurement laws and make governments combine their purchasing power, a law
professor has said.
Christopher Bovis, professor of European Business Law at the
University of Hull and academic advisor to the EU’s single market programme has
described bidding as an SME for public sector contracts in Europe “extremely
The academic said the US public sector has a “clever” system
of contract compliance. Bidding companies must meet diversity requirements,
which means a certain percentage of businesses winning contracts must be
minority-owned for example, women- or ethnic minority-owned.
Bovis said: “It is not just the US system that the EU can
learn from. The EU should encourage member state governments to collaborate on
purchasing. They must harness their purchasing power to save money. This is
something that currently they are reluctant to do.”
So instead of, for example,
local councils or government departments in one country teaming up to get a
better deal, public sector organisations across the EU could work together to
Bovis will put forward his views
at the Annual Conference on European Public Procurement Law 2011 in Trier, Germany,
today and tomorrow.
In July, The Department for Transport decided to award a
contract for new trains on the Thameslink project to German company Siemens over Bombardier,
which owns the UK’s last train manufacturing plant in Derby. Transport secretary Philip Hammond said he was
consulting on ways to increase support for UK train manufacturers when awarding
rail and infrastructure contracts.
Referring to the Thameslink contract Bovis said: “There is
an option to abort the deal. Legally, we are at the preferred bidder stage and
the contract is not signed. Britain ‘gold plates’ EU procurement law, Germany
and other countries look after their domestic businesses more.”