The complexity but also the potential of strategic public procurement and the need for improved administrative capacity is the centre of the opinion written by Adrian Ovidiu Teban (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cugir. The members of the European Committee of the Regions adopted the proposals on the Public Procurement Package during their plenary session on 4 July in Brussels.
Every year, over 250,000 public authorities in the EU spend around 14% (Romania 11%) of GDP on the purchase of services, goods and works in sectors such as energy, transport, waste management, social protection, health or education. According to EU legislation, all public contracts above a certain threshold need to be put out for tender respecting principles of transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination. The European Commission's Public Procurement Package aims to exploit the potential of public procurement as a tool to support key policy areas.
"For modern public procurement, it is not enough to achieve best value for public money. It is also expected to support strategic and innovative policy goals such as taking advantage of digitalisation, contributing to economic and environmental sustainability, innovation and social inclusion as well as helping to minimise waste, fraud or corruption. On the downside this envisaged change towards a more strategic public procurement adds another layer of complexity to procurement procedures and demands a high level of conceptual, operational and managerial skills", says Adrian Ovidiu Teban (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cugir and rapporteur of the CoR opinion on the Public Procurement Package.
Despite the fact that subnational governments are major economic actors in local markets, the complexities of public procurement procedures can often be a challenge. Irregularities in the implementation of EU rules, lengthy processes as well as limited administrative capacity have made the administrative costs high, especially for cross-border projects. Smaller local and regional authorities, in particular, avoid using public procurement because they fear making procedural mistakes, which could lead to a court cases and extensive litigation.
"The current public procurement legislation puts so much effort in ensuring transparency and fairness that the efficiency of the procedure suffers, hindering local and regional authorities from investing", says CoR rapporteur Adrian Ovidiu Teban. "The European Commission needs to raise awareness among procurement officials and support authorities through tailored training sessions, best practices and financial support to obtain the right skill-set, technical knowledge and procedural understanding to drive the change".
The rapporteur supports the Commission's proposal to establish a broad collaborative partnership with and between relevant stakeholders. The initiative could assist Member States in devising and implementing professionalisation strategies to improve access of companies, including SMEs, and provide clarity and guidance to public authorities on large infrastructure projects.
He also supports the idea of a "European catalogue of solutions", ranging from technical solutions to climate and energy requirements, to innovative solutions to social challenges in order to standardise procedures and reduce malicious claims. He further refers to ex ante conditionalities – certain conditions that must be fulfilled before the programme is implemented and which have proven to be a successful tool in the reform of cohesion policy - as a key to the successful implementation of the EU public procurement framework.
Public Procurement Indicators 2015 – Data: Romania
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