“Public procurement plays a crucial role in the economic development of the European Union, the rules ensure public money is spent in the most efficient way“, stated Thomas Habermann (EPP/DE), President of the County of Rhön-Grabfeld and EPP-CoR rapporteur, whose draft opinion was adopted today in the ECON Commission meeting.
During the debate, the rapporteur outlined that the draft opinion follows up the CoR’s commitment of the “Task force on subsidiarity, proportionality and doing less more efficiently” and the Better Regulation agenda, to provide feedback on the implementation of EU legislation at local and regional level.
He highlighted the need to clarify the circumstances in which local and regional authorities are permitted to promote local economic growth and local structures in the interests of sustainability and positive environmental impact, by using short supply chains in line with the “buy local” principle.
“The opinion shows that there is no need for another reform of public procurement law in the near future. Instead it highlights that local and regional authorities are still struggling to apply very complex European rules”, said rapporteur Thomas Hambermann during the ECON Commission meeting.
He pointed out that the resulting administrative burden for local and regional authorities must be proportional to the benefits that public procurement can bring for the public. Public procurement is not primarily intended to achieve policy goals regarding, for example, environmental sustainability, social inclusion or innovation, or to further specific socio-political development. However, it is increasingly being used as a vehicle for steering and achieving other policy goals. It is nonetheless important not to lose sight of the aim and purpose of public procurement: determining the best price-quality ratio in line with the principles of sound financial management and efficiency of the public administration.
He stressed that the option of taking account of green, social or innovative criteria in public service provisions must remain entirely at the discretion of the local authority concerned – in line with the principal of self-government.
The EU must ensure consistency between the various European policies governing public procurement, competition and state aid, in order to ensure that the EU as a whole is strengthened as an industrial center and that European companies are competitive in a globalised world. The European Commission should launch a process for reliable and clear EU-wide labeling and certificates, for example in the field of environmental sustainability, in order to create legal certainty and reduce burdens for contracting authorities on the ground and in order to develop a fully compatible system that could significantly simplify and speed up public procurement procedures.
The existing legislation did not fulfill it’s their main purpose of substantially simplifying procedures for local and regional authorities; nonetheless, the rapporteur, takes the view that, in the interests of continuity and for the reasons mentioned above, further legislative reform in the coming years would be highly inadvisable.
“I am happy to see that there is a consensus amongst representatives of local and regional authorities from all member states of the European Union. Public procurement law needs to be easily applicable. Additional criteria would make the rules more complex and in particular exclude small and medium size enterprises from public tenders”, concluded the EPP-CoR rapporteur Thomas Habermann.