EU procurement is going Green. As part of its Europe 2020 strategy for sustainable, inclusive economic growth over the next decade, the European Commission is reviewing the EU public procurement system. The January 2011 Green Paper on the modernisation of EU public procurement policy (with a view to making legislative proposals in early 2012) discussed a range of procurement issues, including:
- thresholds – should these be raised?
- negotiation – should contracting authorities have more freedom to negotiate contract terms with potential bidders?
- SMEs – can the administrative burden be reduced for small and medium-sized enterprises to give them easier access to procurement markets?
The UK Cabinet Office’s response of July 2011 called for radical simplification of public procurement policy, a reduction in administrative burdens, an increase in flexibility for purchasers and encouragement of SMEs. In particular, the response supported the raising of thresholds, plus an indexation mechanism to allow for inflation, increased negotiation (and communication generally) between contracting authorities and bidders, and Commission guidance as to how this can be done in accordance with EU principles.
The Cabinet Office also released an August update on the UK’s efforts to promote its proposals and plans to keep stakeholders updated on developments in the run up to the release of legislative proposals early next year.