"Public procurement rules are there to ensure that all economic operators throughout the EU have a fair chance to win a public contract. Robust and swift procedures are also essential to support investment and avoid delays. Almost half of the European Structural and Investment Funds are channelled through public procurement. Since the beginning of the Juncker Commission, we have been working closely together so that EU funds are used efficiently by correctly and consistently applying public procurement rules across the EU, thereby contributing to the EU jobs and growth agenda. With the active support of the Commission, a number of Member States have been preparing and implementing national action plans to address structural weaknesses. In October we published guidelines to help public officials across the EU identify and avoid the most frequent errors in public procurement of projects co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds. Now it's time to step up a gear. We have just published an Action Plan in support of more robust procurement in the cohesion context. We also presented and discussed yesterday a series of actions and recommendations to further improve public procurement in the same context with Mr Phil Wynn Owen, Member of the European Court of Auditors. In the field of Cohesion and beyond, ensuring best value for money must be our constant concern. We want to develop active partnerships with Member States to make sure this is the case and, in parallel to a strict monitoring, to assist them in the enforcement of our rules."
Almost half of the European Structural and Investment Funds allocations are channelled into the real economy through public procurement. The new legislation on Cohesion Policy has conditioned the channelling of the funds to Member States upon the existence of an effective and sound public procurement framework.
The approach used by the Commission is both preventive and corrective. The Commission provides guidance and assistance in capacity-building in the Member States, helping them address the main weaknesses, but will interrupt payments when it becomes clear that despite all preventive actions there has been little or no positive effect.
The Action Plan on public procurement is part of a broader initiative of the Commission to help Member States and regions improve the way they invest and manage Cohesion Policy funds, alongside the development of Peer 2 Peer, a platform for public officials from Member States to exchange expertise and best practice in administrative capacity-building, and Integrity Pacts, a tool to improve transparency and accountability in public procurement. Moreover, the aim is to set up a database of all irregularities detected in Member States, and to encourage them to develop national contract registries.
Finally, Contracting Authorities should have highly skilled staff conducting public procurement procedures, in order to achieve best value for money; in this regard, the Commission will organise a conference in the beginning of 2016 on the best use of award criteria in public procurement, notably on the best quality price ratio (BPQR).