Changes to EU rules set to modernise and simplify procurement

New rules to benefit private sector companies

Significant changes to the EU Procurement Directive, which are due to come into force this autumn, include a raft of new rules which will shake up the way public projects are tendered.

The changes have been designed to modernise and simplify the system, while promoting good practice in procurement and delivering economic growth across Europe.

The overhaul is expected to lead to a reduction in complicated bureaucracy, fewer wasted bidding costs – running to millions of pounds – the simplification of pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) and the removal of barriers to market access.

Crucially, the new directive states that all Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notices must be sent electronically, which means public sector organisations must provide unrestricted and free electronic access to documents from the date a notice is published.

All of this adds up to increased opportunities for private sector suppliers, and with hundreds of local contracts published every week in every area, public sector tenders are a valuable way to secure new work.

EU member states have been given two years for the directive to become law, but the UK government has set a more ambitious target of adopting the new legislation by early 2015 – with a shift to an entirely electronic tendering process within two years.

The EU legislation means that local authorities, NHS trusts, transport operators and other public bodies must follow transparent and non-discriminatory principles when purchasing goods and services, while the regulations set out procedures and standards for awarding contracts.

Millstream has already noted a rise in contracts on offer in key sectors including IT, construction and healthcare, which alone generated more than 4,000 tenders last year.

With demand for general hospital services, pharmaceutical work, cardiology, nursing services, surgical instruments and medical consumables, Millstream has reported a rise in opportunities in specific areas such as weight management and smoking cessation programmes, community healthcare services and fitness.

Tim Williams, managing director of Millstream, said: “Procurement of health, social and education service schemes or projects valued at less than €500,000 won’t be subject to EU rules, while negotiation will be allowed and paper tendering will be phased out.

“Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for purchasers in the public sector to advertise their tenders and to help small and medium sized companies to identify new business opportunities and give them the best chance of actually winning that work.”