Yesterday, the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection adopted the report by Marc Tarabella MEP (S&D, BE) on Public Procurement. SMEs welcome the fact that the Tarabella report demands specific measures to encourage SMEs' participation in public procurement by imposing the adoption of SME-friendly strategies and by requiring Member States to formulate initiatives to increase SMEs' involvement in public procurement when their rate of successful bids for tenders gets lower than 50%.
ESBA is disappointed, however, by the exclusive use of the ''Most Economically Advantageous Tender'' (MEAT) as the award criterion. Keeping the lowest cost criterion would equally have left room for contracting authorities to include social and environmental protection objectives in a tender. The exclusive use of the MEAT will disadvantage SMEs, whose bids tend to be the lowest. Moreover, ESBA would have preferred mandatory splitting of contracts into lots, or an obligation for contracting authorities to provide justifications when deciding not to split contracts into lots.
ESBA believes that both the implementation of the European Procurement Passport and the performing of all procurement procedures by electronic means could significantly reduce the costs to submit bids. It should be noted, however, that Member States will be required to fully make use of electronic procurement within two years after the adoption of the Directive. ESBA considers this period quite short and therefore particularly welcomes the provision of training and guidance to SMEs by Member States.
ESBA President David Caro said:
''Although it is clear that the report marks an important step to increase the participation of small businesses in public procurement, it will not help small businesses to reap the full benefits of public purchasing power. When we talk about 'strategic use of public procurement', we should choose to invest in our micro- and small businesses. They are the backbone of the European economy, struggle most from the crisis and should therefore be supported by all available means. It is to be regretted that the IMCO Committee did not decide to make splitting into lots mandatory, something that would have forced public authorities to tailor contracts to SMEs. Moreover, with the European Institutions' aim to encourage greater access to procurement by SMEs, careful consideration of the concept of the MEAT is necessary. When measures like these are introduced, they should be examined and tested to make sure they do not disadvantage the SME community.''