MEPs proposed a public procurement passport to help SMEs

The Internal Market Committee approved a non-legislative resolution in which it proposes an electronic public procurement passport that could make tendering for public procurement contracts less cumbersome and costly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to the latest non-legislative resolution approved by the Internal Market Committee, a public procurement passport will help SMEs when tendering for public procurement. It means that contracts will be less cumbersome and costly for them. SMEs win only 31%-38% of public procurement contracts by value - much less than their overall share in the economy (52% of combined turnover) suggests they should. MEPs underlined that it should be priority to remove administrative barriers for SMEs, with measures that could include use of self-declarations of compliance and requesting original documents only from the shortlisted candidates or the successful tenderer. Also, dividing public contracts into lots would give SMEs a better chance of bidding.

The report approved is the committee's reply to a Commission green paper published on 27 January 2011. It outlines MEPs' position ahead of a legislative proposal, which the Commission is to table later this autumn, to revise EU rules on public procurement. EU Public procurement rules apply to contracts between public authorities and private enterprises for supplies, works and services. The Internal Market Committee also calls on the Commission to reassess the appropriate level of thresholds for supply and services contracts, so as to facilitate access to public procurement by amongst others not-for-profit and social economy operators as well as SMEs, and if necessary raise them.

In addition, the resolution recommends that the "lowest price" criterion should no longer be the determining factor in awarding contracts. It should be replaced by that of the most economically advantageous tender in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits, taking into account the entire life-cycle costs of the relevant goods, services or works. Broadening the criteria, and systematically admitting alternative bids (or variants) would enable bidders to propose innovative solutions and thus might also strengthen the position of SMEs.