British SMEs to get easier access to EU procurement contracts

The European Parliament has managed to officially adopt a revised set of procurement directives that are likely to make it a lot easier for UK firms to tender for public sector work across the common market, a new media report has revealed.

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The revised directives will bring about significant savings in terms of the costs associated to the bidding process, the European Commission estimating that SMEs would be able to save as much as 60 percent.

Under the existing legislation, companies who decide to bid for a contract have to provide extensive supporting evidence in their application and also need to submit three years of audited accounts, which means that recently founded firms are left completely out of the loop.

The revised directives stipulate that comprehensive evidence will only be required if the company manages to win the contract, and that the company’s history will not be held against it (thus opening up the market further for start-ups).

“We have reduced the red tape and streamlined the processes, taking out a lot of the bureaucratic nonsense,” said Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude. “A lot of the unnecessary work will be eradicated.”

According to the Government representative, once the directives are implemented, small firms will be able to bid as long as their annual revenue is twice the value of the deal, which is a significant step forward, compared to previous rules.

Another useful change brought about by the revised EU procurement directives is the fact that the government will now be able to exclude suppliers on the grounds of poor past performance, and not just grave misconduct, as was the case up until now.

“We were very frustrated [by the previous rules],” said Mr Maude. “This is a much more sensible, commercial approach, which brings the public sector more in line with the private sector.”

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