“Getting Fit for Public Procurement: The Push for Professionalism”, Gracia Vara Arribas (EIPA, Maastricht)

Public procurement is a key policy area for the proper functioning of the internal market, accounting for 14 % of EU GDP. It is also an instrument that can be used to help achieve other policy goals, including successful recovery from the present crisis.

The 2014 Public Procurement Directives were explicitly aimed at increasing access to procurement markets; improving transparency, integrity and data; boosting the digital transformation of procurement; and becoming the tool for strategic implementation of green, social and innovative policies in Member States. The EU would henceforth not only coordinate public procurement rules in order to ensure the integrity of the internal market in public contracts. It would also seek to utilise public procurement as a ‘demand-side policy’ to achieve its own key goals. The Council, in its Conclusions of November 2020, likewise calls on the Commission and the Member States to use public procurement as a strategic tool to foster sustainable and innovative growth.

Yet public procurement is highlighted in the Commission’s 2020 Internal Market Scoreboard as one of the specific areas in which work is needed and the performance of the Member States is ‘uneven’.

How can countries improve their performance? The European Commission has been recommending the professionalisation of public buyers since the last public procurement legislative package, in which Directive 24/2014 already mentions in its preamble the need for professionalising procurement management. In November 2020 the Council called on the Member States to improve the ‘professionalisation of public buyers’ as a key means ‘of enhancing efficiency of public procurement to boost recovery and to tackle future crises’.

This Briefing first presents the main needs and objectives that are involved, and then reviews the various initiatives that are under way to address these needs, focusing on the instrument ProcurCompEU.

Read more here.