EU procurement reform 'does not solve key problems'

15 September 2013

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16 September 2013 | Marino Donati

Reforms to European procurement law fail to address “real world” problems, according to a construction sector body.

Changes to current directives that govern public purchasing are part of an overall programme to modernise public procurement in the European Union.

However, the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) said changes to the directive will fail to achieve the European Commission's objectives. 

The FIEC, which represents members in 29 countries, said not enough had been done to tackle the problem of abnormally low tenders, with neither mandatory identification criteria nor mandatory rejection part of the new directive. 

Revisions to the award criteria, aimed at producing the best price-quality ratio for tenders, have made the wording more complicated. And it remains insufficient to deter authorities from awarding contracts to the cheapest offers, to the detriment of quality, the FIEC said.

Shortening of time limits to respond to tenders went against the commission’s aim of encouraging SMEs to have access to public procurement markets, as good quality tenders took time to draw up.

The new directive also creates unfair advantages to public entities, to the detriment of private enterprises, the FIEC claimed. It said the scope of “in-house” and “public-public cooperation” had been broadened considerably, allowing important market shares to be awarded without transparent, competitive procedures.

FIEC president Thomas Schleicher said: “From the very beginning of this legislative process, FIEC stressed there was not sufficient practical experience for a revision, due to the late implementation of the current directives into national law.

“And now, despite some welcome changes, we end up with lengthy and complicated procedures, which do not solve some key problems that contractors have to face in the real world.”

The European Council is scheduled to give final formal agreement to the regulations after November. Member states will have two years to transpose them into their national laws after they come into force.

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