More e-procurement could cut corruption in Europe

8 June 2012

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8 June 2012 | Adam Leach

EU nations should increase their adoption of e-procurement to provide greater transparency and reduce the potential for purchasing processes to be corrupted, according to a report published this week.

Money, Politics and Power: Corruption Risks in Europe, published by anti-corruption NGO Transparency International (TI) said member states should invest more in online systems to manage the tender process. It also called on the EU to develop standardised platforms and processes to support less-developed countries in adopting the digital approach.

According to the report, the overall value of public procurement is around €1.7 trillion (£1.3 trillion), about 15 per cent of the EU’s GDP. With such a high amount of money involved, and the challenging economic times currently facing the continent, TI said there is a need for more action to limit the risk of corruption within procurement.

Although the NGO called for tighter regulation, it also warned this should not become too much of an administrative burden and put off businesses from competing.

The report raised concerns over a number of issues, saying practices were being adopted to avoid having to comply with EU law for large procurements. It said in the Czech Republic, large projects were broken down into multiple contracts so that they didn’t go above the threshold. It added certain countries were abusing the ‘state of emergency’ rule - where countries can negotiate with a single company in order to speed up the process to meet a national emergency.

The report recommended all EU member states should have a strong and robust whistleblower line so that those who suspect or have knowledge of corruption within procurement, or other areas, can report it without fear of intimidation or losing their job.

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