Beuter, Rita. (2011) European Public Procurement: Time for Reform? EIPAscope 01/2011. EIPAScope, 2011 (1). pp. 37-40. ISSN 1025-6253
In examining recent initiatives at European level, the EU2020 strategy and the relaunch of the single market, public procurement figures prominently as an important tool for modernising the European economies and reducing costs for the public sector. Due to the mere size and economic relevance of public procurement markets in Europe estimated at nearly 2300 billion Euros in 2009 and 19% of EU GDP, it is no wonder that public procurement has come to the fore in times of economic crisis and budgetary cuts as the panacea for many problems or as a promising policy tool whose benefits appeared to have been overlooked or not sufficiently taken into account in the past. Looking at the various strategy papers, public procurement is being identified as a tool for promoting innovation, stimulating SMEs, opening up markets in third countries for European businesses, promoting social inclusion, fair trade and environmental protection. This paper will first provide some factual information on European public procurement and then go through some recent initiatives and highlight their procurement context. The argument brought forward in this article is that the reform of procurement rules is premature and that the European public procurement rules are in general very flexible and innovative, which provide for the integration of other policy objectives. Professionalising procurement practice and doing away with prescriptive and bureaucratic rules at the national level would be recommended.
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