Corruption and the lack of rule of law undermine the mutual trust that is underpinning the internal market. This opinion should contribute to bringing attention to how challenges to the rule of law affect the internal market and in particular public procurement.
The Communication presents a public procurement strategy which sets out the overall policy framework and defines clear priorities to improve procurement in practice and support investment within the EU. Three concrete initiatives are presented alongside this strategy. The Commission presents a Communication on a mechanism for large infrastructure projects to provide clarity and guidance to public authorities on public procurement. It also proposes a Recommendation to professionalise public buyers because a skilful workforce is essential for effective implementation. In parallel, a targeted consultation is launched on a draft guidance on public procurement of innovation, to support the breakthrough of new and more sustainable solutions for our societies.
The proposal on an International Procurement Instrument (IPI) is the EU response to the lack of a level playing field in world procurement markets. While our public procurement market is open to foreign bidders, the procurement markets for foreign goods and services in third countries remain to a large extent closed de iure or de facto. The IPI aims at encouraging partners to engage in negotiations and opening participation for EU bidders and goods in third countries' tenders. A first proposal on this issue was made in 2012 (COM(2012) 124 final) but there was no agreement in the Council. The new Commission proposal incorporates some of the changes requested from the European Parliament and tries to reply to some of the concerns expressed in the Council. A number of Member States have expressed reservations as regards the principle of closing the EU market for goods and services originating in certain third countries, even if only temporarily and in a targeted way.
In June 2011, the Commission adopted a Communication on Fighting Corruption in the EU, establishing the EU Anti-Corruption Report to monitor and assess Member States' efforts in this area with a view to developing a stronger political engagement to address corruption effectively. Corruption is defined in the report in a broad sense as "any abuse of power for private gain".
Digital agenda in general is one of the tools to address the current crisis. E-procurement specifically brings modernisation, innovation and less market fragmentation. The EESC opinion gives in-depth analysis of the current state in the MS, puts forward concrete solutions and gives an objective judgement of the EC strategy for e-procurement.
The opinion is interesting to national and local public administrations and to the private sector as well.
The EESC reflects in the opinion its view on a package of three Commission proposals. The EESC welcomes the debate initiated by the Commission whose purpose is an extensive modernisation of the procurement system, notes however that considerable doubt persists regarding the need for a EU directive on the award of concession contracts.