Single Market Commissioner Michel Barnier has announced an ambitious target requiring public sector organisations to buy all goods and services online by 2016. The move is expected to save EU taxpayers billions in euros and make it simpler for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to do business with government.
Commissioner Barnier said: "It's time to act. E-procurement represents a significant untapped potential for the EU economy. It can simplify the way procurement is conducted, reduce burdens and costs, increase the participation of SMEs and deliver better quality and lower prices. The sooner the transition is initiated, the sooner we will reap the benefits offered by e-procurement."
The total size of the EU's procurement market is estimated to be more than 2 trillion euro, so each 5% saved could result in about 100 billion euro of savings per year – which is equivalent to building more than 150 large size hospitals. These savings would maximise the efficiency of public spending in the current context of fiscal constraints. Public entities that have already implemented e-procurement report savings of between 5% and 20% of their procurement expenditure.
The Communication sets out a strategy to achieve this ambitious transition. It proposes a series of flanking measures meant to support all stakeholders, including SMEs, in completing the transition on time. These measures include:
- Supporting financially and technically the development of e-procurement infrastructure via EU programmes and funding
- Identifying and sharing best practice in the area of e-procurement
- Monitoring the level of take-up and the benefits of e-procurement
- Implementing a wide-ranging dissemination strategy to inform stakeholders about the opportunities and benefits offered by e-procurement.
E-procurement can also participate in providing new sources of economic growth and jobs. E-procurement can significantly simplify the life of companies, especially SMEs, by increasing the transparency of and access to tender opportunities and by reducing the costs of participating in a tender (reduced mail costs, less printing, etc.). Experience in the EU and beyond shows that the use of e-procurement has increased the participation of SMEs in public procurement procedures.