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Digital procurement

Digital procurement

Public procurement is undergoing a digital transformation. The EU supports the process of rethinking public procurement process with digital technologies in mind. This goes beyond simply moving to electronic tools; it rethinks various pre-award and post-award phases. The aim is to make them simpler for businesses to participate in and for the public sector to manage. It also allows for the integration of data-based approaches at various stages of the procurement process.

Digital procurement is deeply linked to eGovernment. It is one of the key drivers toward the implementation of the 'once-only principle' in public administrations – a cornerstone of the EU's Digital Single Market strategy. In the age of big data, digital procurement is also crucial in enabling governments to make data-driven decisions about public spending.

With digital tools, public spending should become more transparent, evidence-oriented, optimised, streamlined and integrated with market conditions. This puts e-procurement at the heart of other changes introduced to public procurement in new EU directives.

The use of electronic tools in public procurement offers a range of important benefits such as:

  • significant savings for all parties
  • simplified and shortened processes
  • reductions in red-tape and administrative burdens
  • increased transparency
  • greater innovation
  • new business opportunities by improving the access of enterprises, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to public procurement markets.

New rules on e-procurement in the EU are now in force:

  • tender opportunities must be published on Tenders Electronic Daily (TED)
  • procurement documents must be accessible electronically and a link must be included in the TED notices mentioned above
  • economic operators must submit tenders electronically
  • contracting authorities must accept electronic invoices (unless a derogation for sub-central authorities is used)

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Timeline of implementation of various parts of eprocurement

Key policy documents

On 17 May 2017, the Commission adopted a Report on the review of the practical application of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD).

On 16 April 2014, the E-Invoicing Directive 2014/55/EU was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

On 26 February 2014, the Classical Sector Directive 2014/24/EU was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The deadline for EU countries to transpose the directive is 18 April 2016. EU countries may postpone the application of the provisions on e-submission until 18 October 2018 however.

On 26 June 2013, the European Commission adopted a Communication on 'End-to-end e-procurement to modernise public administration'.

On 20 April 2012, the Commission adopted a Communication on 'A strategy for e-procurement'.

On 18 October 2010, the Commission released a Green Paper on 'expanding the use of e-procurement in the EU'.

Documents produced by the Multi-stakeholder Expert Group on e-Procurement