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Public contracts – have your say on the rules - 28/01/2011

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Consultation on ways to make EU public procurement rules work more efficiently for governments, companies and taxpayers.

Public procurement – government spending on contracts to buy goods, services and infrastructure – accounts for 17% of the EU's GDP. Better rules would help governments use this money more efficiently, leading to more innovation, jobs and environmentally friendly growth.

The EU’s single market rules have already helped public authorities to save taxpayers’ money by enabling companies to compete for contracts across the bloc’s internal borders.

But there is room for further improvement. Extra savings would be especially welcome now, when public funds are under pressure from a weakened economy and calls to cut spending.

The EU is holding a public consultation on how to achieve a more competitive public procurement market – and save more public money.

A background document to the consultation outlines ways in which the existing system can be streamlined to deliver these goals. Any changes must also ensure transparency, equal access and fair competition in the awarding of public contracts. The document identifies key areas for possible revision of the current rules, including:

  • simplifying current procedures, especially for small local and regional governments
  • cutting red tape, in particular for small to medium-sized businesses
  • making it easier to bid for public contracts across borders
  • determining when contracts between public authorities should be exempted from EU public procurement rules
  • modifying the rules to achieve other policy objectives such as promotion of innovation or environmental or social goals
  • customising rules for the procurement of services of particular social significance
  • adding stricter rules or better safeguards to prevent favouritism, corruption or conflicts of interest
  • avoiding measures that lead to dominant suppliers, bid rigging or market sharing between bidders
  • improving EU companies’ access to public procurement markets outside the bloc

Next steps

Comments from the consultation will feed into possible legislative proposals to be made next year. You must submit your opinion by 18 April 2011.

Public procurement consultation

More information on public procurement in the EU

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