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European Commission consults public authorities, business and civil society on access to external public procurement markets

The European Commission is consulting stakeholders in all EU Member States for their views on a new policy on access to the EU's public procurement markets as announced in the Single Market Act of April 2011.

An on-line questionnaire was launched yesterday and will be open for contributions until 2 August. Replies will feed into legislation on this issue later this year. The aim is to create increased leverage for negotiating access to the procurement markets of other trading partners. This should help expand business opportunities for EU companies, as outlined in the EU's renewed trade strategy "Trade, Growth and World Affairs" presented in November 2010.

In addition, the legislation seeks to establish clear terms of access to the EU's 1,800 billion government procurement market for suppliers from outside the EU. This should bring more legal certainty for both the EU public entities that need goods and services and their prospective international suppliers.

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Public procurement rules define how public authorities spend public money when buying goods, works or services on the open market. Solid public procurement rules prevent governments from favouring a specific economic operator and guarantee sound competition between market players which helps governments to find best value for tax payers' money.

Public procurement represents a substantial part of the EU's and other trading partners' economies. In the EU, it corresponds to 17% of GDP. Through international commitments, such as the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and trade agreements concluded with third countries or regions, the EU has shown strong advocacy for an ambitious opening of international public procurement markets. It has committed itself to granting market access to its public procurement market for most foreign goods, services and companies.

In contrast to the EU’s policy favouring greater openness, many third countries are reluctant to (further) open their procurement markets to international competition. Whereas €312 billion of EU public procurement is open to bidders from member countries of the WTO agreement on procurement, the value of US procurement offered to foreign bidders is just €34 billion and €22 billion for Japan. Certain trading partners have maintained or introduced protectionist measures hitting, among others, EU companies. This clearly limits business opportunities for EU companies in these markets.

The consultation documents can be found here:

Contacts :

Chantal Hughes (+32 2 296 44 50)

Catherine Bunyan (+32 2 299 65 12)

Carmel Dunne (+32 2 299 88 94)

John Clancy (+32 2 295 37 73)

Helene Banner (+32 2 295 24 07)


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