Draft public procurement directive published by European Commission

Implementation would smooth the path for charities to win public services contracts

Draft European directive published
Draft European directive published

The European Commission has published draft rules on public procurement that are expected to make it easier for charities to win public sector contracts.

The proposed directive on public procurement, published late last month, is intended to modernise and simplify European Union commissioning laws.

The directive says it will invite public bodies to break down contracts so that small organisations can bid for them. If the bodies refuse to do so they should publish an explanation.

It will also aim to reduce the documentation needed by smaller organisations to bid for contracts successfully.

The directive proposes that public sector commissioners should consider the social impact of organisations that bid for contracts.

However, it is not clear whether this part of the directive would place additional requirements on the UK government, which is already backing a private member’s bill, introduced by Chris White, the Conservative MP for Warwick & Leamington.

This would require commissioners of public sector services to consider how they might "promote or improve the economic, social or environmental wellbeing" of their local area through any contract.

The proposed directive must be approved by the European Parliament and ministers. If it is implemented it will apply to all EU member states.

Robin Barton, head of business development and tendering at the Salvation Army, said he believed the proposals would have major benefits for charities of all sizes.

"At the moment the government issues contracts that even we, as one of the very biggest charities, would struggle to bid for," he said. "The Work Programme is the most obvious example of that.

"If this leads to smaller contracts, it’s good news.

"We also think that any requirement that bidders should show their social benefit could only help the sector."

Barton said the sector still had the opportunity to strengthen the development of the directive to make it more favourable to charities, and should continue to lobby European representatives.

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The proposed directive

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