The European Commission should encourage public commissioners to offer smaller contracts and fund training for them so they can better meet the needs of third sector organisations, according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
The NCVO was asked to submit its ideas to an ongoing review of EU procurement directives, which the commission consulted on this year and is expected to publish new recommendations about early next year.
The NCVO says in its response that charities are hampered in public sector procurement by bureaucracy and by a lack of clarity over the rules they must follow.
The response says the commission and EU member states should "reduce administrative and accounting obligations where possible in order to lessen the burden on small and medium-sized enterprises and not-for-profit providers".
It says that a move towards larger contracts was likely to stifle the type of innovation that was traditionally a strength of third sector organisations.
"Unless commissioners consciously consider the wider implications of commissioning decisions, there is a risk that, over time, ‘general interest’, ‘social capital’ or ‘community’ objectives are neglected and undermined by concerns over competition and efficiency," it says.
The response says the commission and EU member states should "encourage the breaking up of large contracts to ensure fair competition" and "provide dedicated funding for training on the operations and capacities of small and medium-sized enterprises and not-for-profit providers for policy-makers, commissioners and procurement officers".