“Public procurement is a crucial instrument for a strong European internal market which creates growth and prosperity for all Europeans.” stated Thomas Habermann (EPP/DE), President of the County of Rhön-Grabfeld and EPP-CoR rapporteur, whose draft opinion was adopted unanimously today in the Plenary Session of the CoR.
The draft opinion follows up the CoR’s commitment to the “Task force on subsidiarity, proportionality and doing less more efficiently” and the Better Regulation agenda, to provide feedback on the implementation of EU legislation at local and regional level.
Thomas Habermann highlighted the need to clarify the circumstances in which local and regional authorities are permitted to promote local economic growth and local structures in the interests of sustainability and positive environmental impact, by using short supply chains.
“The opinion shows that there is no need for another reform of public procurement law in the near future. Instead it highlights that local and regional authorities are still struggling to apply very complex European rules”, said rapporteur Thomas Habermann.
He gave on the ground examples of Public tenders that have a clear added value to the everyday life of the citizens. One of the projects refers to civil engineering works in the road construction sector (county roads). Transport is an issue in many regions of Europe and having a proper road will help all the citizens of that region to commute.
Another example given by the rapporteur was an in-house procurement project regarding waste management. As only one private sector company applied for the tender, which proposed proportionate high prices the County decide to provide the required waste disposal services by a local public enterprise.
The resulting administrative burden for local and regional authorities must be proportional to the benefits that public procurement can bring for the public. Public procurement is not primarily intended to achieve policy goals regarding, for example, environmental sustainability, social inclusion or innovation, or to further specific socio-political development. However, it is increasingly being used as a vehicle for steering and achieving other policy goals. It is nonetheless important not to lose sight of the aim and purpose of public procurement: determining the best price-quality ratio in line with the principles of sound financial management, to allow the best use of taxpayers money and ensure a high level of efficiency of the public administration.
He stressed that the option of taking account of green, social or innovative criteria in public service provisions must remain entirely at the discretion of the local authority concerned – in line with the principal of self-government.
“I am happy to see that there is a consensus amongst representatives of local and regional authorities from all member states of the European Union. Public procurement law needs to be easily applicable. Additional mandatory criteria would make the rules more complex and in particular exclude small and medium size enterprises from public tenders”, concluded the EPP-CoR rapporteur Thomas Habermann.