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EU Institutions should make bidding for contracts easier

5 September 2016

The EU Institutions should do more to help businesses find contracts on offer and bid for them, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. The auditors call for a cut in the red tape involved in EU public procurement and a new online platform with contracts from all the Institutions.

The auditors examined how accessible the Institutions made their public contracts. They found that the management and control arrangements were robust and reduced the risk of errors which could deter businesses from participating and prevent fair treatment. However, when the Institutions revised the rules in 2015, they did not open up access by simplifying procedures and clarifying grey areas as much as possible. Procurement by the main EU Institutions — the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Central Bank — amounted to some €4 billion in 2014.

The auditors make the following main recommendations:

• The Institutions should jointly create an online one-stop procurement shop where tenderers can find all the information they need and interact with the Institutions. They should set up a single public repository of information regarding previous contracts, and all the regulations on procurement should be consolidated into a single rulebook.

• SME participation should be explicitly encouraged.

• The Institutions should use preliminary market consultations wherever appropriate to inform businesses of their plans.

• Contracts should be divided into lots wherever possible to increase participation.

• The Commission should propose a mechanism for the rapid and independent review of complaints from businesses which feel unfairly treated.

• The European Anti-Fraud Office should report on any allegations under investigation and their outcome.

Source: European Court of Auditors (ECA)