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Delivering savings for Europe: moving to full e-procurement for all public purchases by 2016

Electronic procurement (e-procurement) refers to the use of electronic communication by public sector organisations when buying supplies and services or tendering public works. Increasing the use of e-procurement in Europe can generate significant savings for European taxpayers. Public entities that have already implemented e-procurement report savings of between 5% and 20% of their procurement expenditure. 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.

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.

Despite these undisputable benefits, the EU is lagging behind both its own targets and internationally. E-procurement is still used in only 5-10% of procurement procedures carried out across the EU despite ambitious political targets.

The Digital Agenda for Europe and the eGovernment Action Plan 2011– 2015 highlighted the importance of connecting e-procurement capacities across the Single Market. In the context of the modernisation of the European Public procurement Directives, adopted in December 2011, the Commission has proposed to make e-procurement the rule rather than the exception, by making it the standard method of procurement in the EU by mid-2016.

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."

Today's 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.

The Communication also announces that the European Commission itself will move towards full e-procurement by mid-2015 – a full year ahead of the deadline for Member States – and that the Commission will make its e-procurement solutions available to Member States.


The legislative proposals to modernise European public procurement adopted by the European Commission in December 2011 (IP/11/1580) proposed a gradual but ambitious transition towards e-procurement in the EU:

  • First by making electronic means of communication mandatory for certain phases of the procurement process (electronic notification of tender opportunities and electronic availability of tender documents) by mid-2014 (at expected transposition of the revised Directive). Central purchasing bodies would also move to full electronic means of communication, including electronic submission of bids by mid-2014

  • Then by making electronic means of communication mandatory for all contracting authorities and all procurement procedures by mid-2016 (two years after the expected transposition of the revised Directive)

  • And by adopting more detailed provisions to encourage interoperability and standardisation of e-procurement processes.

Next steps

The Commission will organise a Conference on e-procurement where the benefits and the implementation challenges of e-procurement will be discussed. The Conference, entitled "Electronic Procurement- Challenges and opportunities" will take place on the 26 June 2012.

See also MEMO/12/265

For further information on EU e-procurement policy including today's communication: