Composition of the study group
The Committee considers that the proposal for a regulation can be a first step towards achieving greater openness of public procurement, for example in the current negotiations in the context of the TTIP between the EU and the USA, in the negotiations for a trade agreement with Japan or the negotiations for China’s accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, as public procurement in these countries is less open than in the European Union, but also vis-à-vis countries which are not signatories to the GPA, like Russia, Brazil and Argentina. However, the Committee is aware that there are profound disagreements in the Council and the European Parliament on the relevance and effectiveness of the proposal for a regulation.
The Committee believes that the new proposal for a regulation is unambitious, its scope being limited to a price adjustment for contracts of a value equal to or greater than EUR 5 000 000, and points out that only 7% of public purchasing contracts exceed EUR 5 000 000 in value. The Committee suggests applying adjustment measures to prices for contracts whose estimated value is equal to or greater than EUR 2 500 000.
The Committee stresses the absolute need to ensure that competition with third-country businesses in the context of public procurement is free and undistorted. It deplores the fact that the proposal for a regulation contains no reference to the objective of sustainable development, although the Commission highlights this objective as a key element of its Trade for All Communication.
The Committee believes that the regulation should develop a more ambitious approach to promoting the objectives of sustainable development, respect for fundamental rights and consumer protection in public procurement procedures in third countries.
The Committee strongly supports the non-application of the regulation to least developed and more vulnerable countries within the meaning of the GSP regulation, but reminds the Commission that further steps should be taken to promote the participation of the least developed and more vulnerable countries in EU public procurement.
The Committee also endorses the non-application of the regulation to European SMEs. However, it wishes to remind the Commission that SMEs need special assistance for access to both cross-border markets in the EU and public procurement in third countries.