On 5 January 2016 the European Commission implemented Regulation 2016/7 to adopt the new European Single Procurement Document ("ESPD") which is aimed at further simplifying the tender process and further encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in public tenders by reducing the administrative burden involved.

The ESPD is a standard issue electronic document that a bidder to a public procurement will use to declare that none of the exclusion grounds apply to it and that it meets the relevant selection criteria for the contract. Following the evaluation stages, only the successful bidder will then be required to submit all documentation to evidence that it qualifies for the contract.

The ESPD is to be used universally by Contracting Authorities across all Member States and will be facilitated by a new web-based system which is currently being developed.

Regulation 2016/7 will enter into force on 26 January 2016, at which point Contracting Authorities should start to use the ESPD and it is expected that Crown Commercial Service guidance will follow shortly to this effect. However, Contracting Authorities should note that given that the Directives do not require Member States to implement the exclusive use of electronic communication in procurement processes until 18 October 2018, up until this date the ESPD can be printed off and filled in manually by bidders, before being submitted electronically as part of the submission requirements.

Contracting Authorities should now review their existing procurement documentation and make suitable provision for the ESPD for new procurements going forwards.