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Small Business Act - public procurement guidelines

25 June 2008
by eub2 -- last modified 25 June 2008

In the context of the Small Business Act (SBA), the European Commission has published a set of practical examples and guidelines which will enable Member States and public authorities to make their public procurement rules and practices more friendly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Public procurement in the EU – i.e. the purchases of goods, services and public works by governments and public utilities - is a vast market, worth €1800 billion in 2006 and estimated at about 16% of GDP.


One of the aims of the SBA is to facilitate access by SMEs to public procurement. In order to identify the problems SMEs face in accessing public contracts and to explore possible solutions, the Commission carried out consultations with stakeholders and assessed the economic dimension of the issue on the basis of an external study.

The outcome of the consultations was very clear: stakeholders stressed that a change in contracting authorities' procuring culture, not legislative changes to the EU Public Procurement Directives, is most needed in order to facilitate SMEs' access to public contracts.

Against this background, the Commission has prepared a 'European Code of Best Practices Facilitating Access by SMEs to Public Procurement Contracts'. This Code of Best Practices is expected to help in two ways:

  • first, in showing how to make an SME friendly use of the provisions of the EC Public Procurement Directives;
  • second, in highlighting a number of SME-friendly rules and practices at national level, gathered through consultations with Member States and other stakeholders.

This Code of Best Practices will deal with solutions to the main difficulties encountered and reported by SMEs:

  • Overcoming difficulties relating to the size of contracts
  • Ensuring access to relevant information
  • Improving quality and understanding of the information provided
  • Setting proportionate qualification levels and financial requirements
  • Alleviating administrative burden
  • Putting emphasis on value for money rather than on price
  • Giving sufficient time to draw up tenders
  • Ensuring payments on time

Source: European Commission
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