Public procurement to be made easier

Wednesday 3rd February 2016

For years small and medium sized enterprises (“SMEs”) have had access to European Union public procurement work severely curtailed by the administrative burden placed upon them at the very early stages of the selection process.

This has not only been an issue for the SMEs, but also for the contracting authorities who have had the pool of private sector firms from which they can choose limited to those who could provide the often costly technical qualification and certification documents required at the pre-qualification stage.

The European Commission now aims to remove the red tape and throw the doors wide open to SMEs with its decision to adopt the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD); but how exactly?

The ESPD will be a standard form of self-declaration that will enable private sector suppliers to tender for public contracts across the EU, removing the need for them to provide certificates from statutory authorities or other public sector bodies.  Instead they will self-certify their compliance with various conditions, including:

  • innocence of any corruption/bribery/fraud or similar convictions
  • technical and professional ability
  • sufficient economic and financial resources

The forms will also standardise the wording of pre-qualification applications in all the official languages of the EU, so removing the ambiguity and confusion that often comes with statements and declarations in cross border public sector work.

From 26 January 2016, all contracting authorities must use the ESPD except for procurement processes that have commenced prior to that date. . ESPD must be provided to suppliers exclusively in an electronic format from 18 October 2018.

Contracting authorities and suppliers who wish to participate in public procurement in the EU should familiarise themselves with the ESPD to ensure they make suitable provision within their procurement procedures to make the most of the new document.

The ESPD form can be found within the implementing regulation at the following link:  

For more information on this, please contact a member of the construction team.