On 7 June 2011, the European Commission launched a consultation on a proposal to create better symmetry in its terms of access for procurement contracts with third countries. The driving force behind the proposal is the EU’s trade negotiations over mutual access to public procurement markets with non-EU countries. Currently, the EU has bilateral agreements on procurement with countries such as South Korea, Chile, Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Switzerland based on terms set out in the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement. There is some concern that at present EU companies may be disadvantaged in terms of access to third country markets while facing fierce foreign competition within the EU. The consultation is intended to seek views on the issue and on possible measures for addressing any perceived problems. Stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, public authorities, utilities and NGOs are invited to respond to the Commission's online questionnaires by 2 August 2011.

For a link to the Commission’s consultation paper on access to procurement markets click here