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Development of e-Procurement in the European Union (Green Paper)

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Development of e-Procurement in the European Union (Green Paper)

The Commission's research suggests that less than 5% of procurement budgets in the Member States are awarded through electronic systems. In the context of promoting e-government, the Commission wishes to encourage e-Procurement. This Green Paper thus forms a first step towards an examination of existing EU provisions on public procurement. It is to be followed by a second Green Paper on the modernisation of these provisions.


Green Paper from the European Commission of 18 October 2010 on expanding the use of e-Procurement in the EU [COM(2010) 571 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Green Paper launches a consultation on e-Procurement.

Aim of the Green Paper

The objective of the consultation launched by this Green Paper is to encourage the dematerialisation of procedures for the awarding of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts. This includes replacing paper-based procedures by electronic procedures for all or a certain amount of the communications and transactions.

This computerisation process should include the following stages:

  • publication of tender notices;
  • provision of tender documents;
  • submission of tenders;
  • evaluation;
  • award;
  • ordering;
  • invoicing;
  • payment.

Benefits of e-Procurement procedures

The European Commission considers that e-Procurement procedures will enable:

  • accessibility and market transparency to be strengthened;
  • administrative costs to be reduced;
  • purchasing procedures to be reviewed and rationalised;
  • the potential for integration of European Union (EU) procurement markets to be improved.

Existing initiatives facilitating e-procurement procedures

Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC have already been amended to facilitate electronic processing in public procurement, and the adoption of appropriate techniques and tools.

In 2004, the European Commission conceived an Action Plan for e-Procurement. This Action Plan assisted Member States in transposing the new legal framework, in particular through an interpretative document and studies aimed at identifying the functional requirements to be applied and explaining the new concepts. In addition, the Action Plan promoted the creation of a common infrastructure for the electronic publication of tender notices, “TED” (Tenders Electronic Daily) and a Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) in all official languages of the Union.

The European Commission has also put in place the following practical tools:

  • PEPPOL : a cross-border pilot project the aim of which is to offer standards-based infrastructure and services at European level, based on the exchange of structured documents between suppliers and buyers (e-Catalogues, e-Ordering and e-Invoicing);
  • e-CERTIS : an online information tool which provides information on the different certificates and attestations frequently requested in procurement procedures;
  • Open e-PRIOR : a European Commission platform enabling e-Ordering and e-Invoicing to be used.

Barriers to be overcome

Most obstacles hindering e-Procurement are interrelated. Comprehensive action should therefore be conducted in order to combat:

  • the lack of motivation on the part of contracting authorities and suppliers due to the cost of reorganising their internal systems;
  • the lack of standards in e-Procurement processes;
  • the lack of means to facilitate mutual recognition of national electronic solutions;
  • the cost of bidder identification techniques;
  • the different speeds of Member States’ transitions to e-Procurement.

The role of the EU in promoting e-Procurement

The EU must respect the decentralised nature of procurement procedures. At national or regional level, contracting authorities have the choice as to whether to use electronic or other communication methods for procurement above the thresholds laid down by European procurement directives.

The EU may act at different levels to encourage e-Procurement:

  • facilitating the accessibility of procurement, in particular cross-border participation, by proposing an appropriate and flexible legal framework;
  • accelerating take-up of e-Procurement by helping Member States to introduce certain obligations either generally or for designated purchases;
  • participate in putting in place building blocks for standardised and interoperable e-Procurement infrastructure;
  • promoting the exchange of best practice in benchmarking and monitoring;
  • developing co-operation initiatives at international level. The Commission has already been working on the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), and with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

Consultation deadline

The Commission invites all parties involved in developing e-Procurement in Europe to reply to this consultation by 31 January 2011.

See also

Last updated: 06.12.2010