Increasing the use of e-procurement in Europe can generate significant savings for European taxpayers. Public entities that have already implemented e-procurement report savings of between 5% and 20% of their procurement expenditure.
The total size of the EU's procurement market is estimated to be more than 2 trillion euro, so each 5% saved could result in about 100 billion euro of savings per year – which is equivalent to building more than 150 large size hospitals. These savings would maximise the efficiency of public spending in the current context of fiscal constraints.
E-procurement can also participate in providing new sources of economic growth and jobs. E-procurement can significantly simplify the life of companies, especially SMEs, by increasing the transparency of and access to tender opportunities and by reducing the costs of participating in a tender (reduced mail costs, less printing, etc.). Experience in the EU and beyond shows that the use of e-procurement has increased the participation of SMEs in public procurement procedures.
Despite these undisputable benefits, the EU is lagging behind both its own targets and internationally. E-procurement is still used in only 5-10% of procurement procedures carried out across the EU despite ambitious political targets.
The Digital Agenda for Europe and the eGovernment Action Plan 2011– 2015 highlighted the importance of connecting e-procurement capacities across the Single Market. In the context of the modernisation of the European Public procurement Directives, adopted in December 2011, the Commission has proposed to make e-procurement the rule rather than the exception, by making it the standard method of procurement in the EU by mid-2016.
Today's Communication sets out a strategy to achieve this ambitious transition. It proposes a series of flanking measures meant to support all stakeholders, including SMEs, in completing the transition on time. These measures include:
Supporting financially and technically the development of e-procurement infrastructure via EU programmes and funding
Identifying and sharing best practice in the area of e-procurement
Monitoring the level of take-up and the benefits of e-procurement
Implementing a wide-ranging dissemination strategy to inform stakeholders about the opportunities and benefits offered by e-procurement.
The Communication also announces that the European Commission itself will move towards full e-procurement by mid-2015 – a full year ahead of the deadline for Member States – and that the Commission will make its e-procurement solutions available to Member States.