The European Commission has set out proposals to increase the impact of public investment through more efficient and accessible procurement. In response, the CoR’s Commission for Economic Policy underlined today that the focus has to be on implementation and continued professionalization within existing directives. According to the draft opinion from Adrian Ovidiu Teban, Mayor of Cugir:
The 2014 directives gave local authorities the discretion to decide on green, social and innovative criteria. Yet, as they have only recently been transposed in many Member States, the authorities and economic players are still adjusting to them by means of training and advisory processes.
He therefore hopes for a thorough assessment to determine how the directives have been transposed and how they are being implemented.
EU public procurement legislation requires all public contracts above a certain threshold to be put out for tender respecting the principles of transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination. These rules were further simplified in 2014. Rather than only award a contract on the basis of the best price, authorities are encouraged to integrate qualitative criteria, demand innovative, energy saving solutions or insisting on sustainable and socially inclusive approaches. Despite welcoming these steps to simplify procedures and ensure fair tendering, the draft opinion underlines that administrative burden and complexity continue to plague local and regional authorities: “The current rules continue to represent a significant challenge to investment for cities and regions” Mayor Teban underlined before adding: “when it comes to SMEs and cross-border procurement, the degree of simplification is not yet sufficient to increase access and the standards stipulated by EU law are often applied with varying degrees of stringency.”
With proposals for the post 2020 budget expected on the 2 May, the rapporteur also believes that there needs to be clarification on how and to what extent conditionality linked to structural reforms and public procurement systems will be used.
Following today’s discussion and adoption by the ECON Commission the opinion will be voted upon by the CoR during the July Plenary Session.