Commission pushes e-procurement
By Sophie Mosca | Friday 20 April 2012
Putting in place a strategy to encourage the online publication of all the tenders by 2016 is the European Commission’s aim. Therefore, on 20 April, it published its plan of action originally expected in March (see
Europolitics4381). In this way, it aims to make up for the EU’s lagging behind in this field and to harmonise the various existing systems and generate substantial savings.
Electronic procurement (e-procurement) is still used in only 5-10% of procurement procedures carried out across the EU. The Union is lagging behind because of the inertia of its actors and the fragmentation of the market caused by the coexistence of various systems, which in turn generate high costs for those who submit tenders.
SAVINGS OF 100 BILLION EURO
E-procurement can generate between 5-20% in savings, promote better competition in the single market and develop business opportunities. Not to mention simplifying matters for businesses (especially SMEs) and administrations by reducing treatment time and workload.
Other advantages include: a notable decrease in the margin of error and substantial environmental advantages thanks to the reduction in paper consumption and transport needs, and a reduction in costly archiving – compared with the corollary energy needs.
The Commission estimates the level of savings would reach at least €100 billion a year – a rather substantial figure in the current context of budget reductions. Both the EU’s Digital Agenda and the action plan for 2011-2015 for online administration showed the importance of interconnecting the means of e-procurement. Therefore, the Commission is proposing moving over completely to e-procurement by mid-2016. To pave the way forward, the Commission will generalise e-procurement for the entire supply chain by the end of June 2015.
Among the 15 measures of the action plan, some will fit in with the amendments proposed in December 2011 for Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC on procurement procedures. Firstly, in 2014, the communication and submission phases of the public procurement procedure will have to be done online and to be as broad as possible and as easy as possible. E-systems must now start planning the transition to the evaluation and attribution phase. Moreover, for more coherence and legal security in cross-border procedures, the online database CERTIS (which takes the census of various documents and certificates which enterprises have to provide to participate in public procurement in the member states) will become, two years after the transposition of the directives, an obligatory compensation area for these public purchases.
As for the recognition of electronic signatures, the interested parties will have to wait until a legal framework is in place (it is announced for the second quarter of 2012) for a complete interoperability of systems and, by then, the awarding authorities that want to resort to it will have to formally declare and accept such a signature, along with a certificate recognised in the EU.
As a complement, potential measures promoting practical solutions are outlined in the document. For example, the availability, as of 2014, of subsidies for the development of these markets under the ‘Interconnection Mechanism in Europe’ aimed at supporting investment in networks that are essential for public services, as well as access to the Structural Funds. From mid-2013, other measures have been planned: a list of good practices for the transfer to e-procurement in Europe, monitors of usage and of benefits, and a wide-ranging information campaign for interested parties.
Furthermore, a conference will be organised, on 26 June, on the theme ‘Electronic procurement - Challenges and opportunities’.