Could EU public procurement reforms work for development?

A member of the European Parliament votes during the first plenary of 2014. The parliament has agreed to review its public procurement regulations on Jan. 15. Photo by: European Parliament / CC BY-NC-ND

The European Parliament on Wednesday agreed to review its public procurement regulations, so now the question among many in the aid community is — will these changes be applied in the future to EU-funded foreign aid efforts?

According to the updated rules, new provisions allow for environmental and social issues as well as innovation to be considered in all public contracts.

The goal is to open up public procurement to SMEs by reducing their bidding costs and generate more value for money by reducing red tape and increasing accountability, instead of just going for the lowest price, and even establishes “penalties” for poor performers, not just breach of contract.

This means — in theory — that EU-funded development tenders will be more accessible to smaller nonprofits and private companies  that normally would not be able to compete with the big names in the industry.

But so far the new rules will only apply to  procurement within the European Union, so the aid community has time to evaluate whether it’s a good idea to push for extending the changes to international development efforts financed by Brussels.

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About the author

  • Carlos Santamaria

    Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.

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