MEPs want to reform rules on public procurement contracts to make it easier to SMEs

The European Commission is going to present reform proposals on public procurement rules in December. MEPs therefore suggests to the Commission to include changes to the current rules such as enabling authorities to award contracts not just to the lowest bidder, but to the most innovative in order to benefit the SMEs.

MEPs approved non-legislative resolution in which they stated that public procurement rules should be simpler, more inclusive and more flexible. Thus, EU rules on public procurement contracts should be reformed to make it easier for small firms to bid for them. Putting taxpayers' money to the best possible use is vital to relaunch our economy and create jobs, especially in time a crisis. Public procurement accounts for roughly 17% of EU GDP.

According to the approved resolution, small and medium-sized enterprises (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. That is why MEPs suggest to divide public contracts into lots. That would give SMEs a better chance of bidding. In addition, they also ask the Commission to assess whether further rules on the award of subcontracts are needed, for example on the establishment of a chain of responsability, specifically to avoid SMEs subcontractors being subject to conditions worse than those applicable to the main contractor.

In order to make it easier to SMEs, the European Parliament follows the Internal Market Committe proposal approved in September 2011, the creation of a procurement passport to simplify bidding. To reduce the administrative burden that compliance places on firms, MEPs propose setting up an EU-wide electronic procurement passport proving that the holder complies with EU rules on public procurement. Other measures to remove administrative barriers could include use of self-declarations of compliance and requesting original documents only from the shortlisted candidates or the successful tenderer.