Is It Time for Some EU Flexibility?

Article excerpt

Byline: NEIL WARWICK

THE process of public procurement is a hot topic at the moment.

Throughout the region there are task groups looking at whether large contracts can be split into smaller contracts to favour SMEs or whether SMEs can bid for contracts in consortia.

It is worth considering the origins of public procurement regulations and different legal interpretations.

The main public procurement regulations were introduced in Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the time it was possible for certain public or statutory bodies to advertise larger scale contracts on a pan-European basis through the "C" series of the Official Journal of Europe. These became known as OJEC notices. It was also possible to voluntarily advertise notices if you were a private body. At the time it was possible to manually read the OJEC notices of all 15 member states in about 90 minutes.

Now known as the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) the system has numerous search engine products which electronically scan for notices produced by all 27 member states.

Originally the regulations were billed as another strand of fair competition in the wider Common Market. …