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Openforum Europe: Procurement law fails to address discriminatory practices

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Using technical specifications to discriminate ICT solutions continues to be a widespread practice within the EU, says Openforum Europe, advocating the use of open standards in ICT. Publishing the results of its audit of European procurement, OFE yesterday urged for action. "These persisting discriminatory practices are not properly addressed."

OFE yesterday shared the results of its most recent inspection of 'invitations to tender' published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It studied 785 tender requests from the last quarter of 2012. "Almost one in five, 19 per cent, includes technical specifications with explicit references to trademarks. That is the highest in the last three years."

"Such practices are against the principles of competition and the fulfilment of the Single Market" OFE writes. It says that this discrimination is an obstacle to small and medium-sized enterprises. "The procurement market should be open, innovative and transparent."

Exit barriers
The advocacy organisation again calls on the European Commission and the EU member states to shore up its public procurement. "The EU decision-makers have to adopt a series of measures to open up public procurement to all economic operators, including SMEs". OFE is calling for the removal of all artificial obstacles. "Procurement policies and processes should not discriminate business models nor suppliers."

OFE also urges the policy makers to take exit barriers into account. Failing to remove these, "may have the effect of allowing inefficient suppliers to remain in the market. It may persuade contracting authorities to apply exceptional awarding procedures to extend existing contracts, instead of inviting other economic operators to bid. As derogations of the principles of competition, these procedures should only be applicable under exceptional circumstances."

OFE has been calling for improvements to procurement practices since its first report, published in 2008.

More information:

OFE's Report 2012 Second Snapshot (pdf)