Sector News
This Week’s Chat from the Public Procurement Cafe

Happy Friday! — and we’ve been down the (imaginary) procurement cafe/bar/cave/biergarten (according to your location) to pick up our recent stories, snippets and information. Well over a trillion Euros of money from taxpayers and citizens is being spent by governments and public sector bodies, you would think it ought to be done well.

Do click through and read the full articles that interest you – some of them we will come back to in greater detail in due course.

Procurement problems cost Romania €3bn in EU funds for transport and environment

Romania reports that “The EU programmes for Transport and Environment have lost EUR 3 billion because public procurement management hasn’t been respected,” according to Emanoil Dascalu, state secretary within the EU Funds Ministry. For 2007-2013 Romania received funds for Euros 3.3 billion worth of projects, but was investigated for misuse of spending of EU funds and not adhering to public procurement regulations. In one instance it had built highways without a building permit. The EC’s funding programme for large infrastructures, to the tune of EUR 23 billion, was aimed at projects in transport, energy and environment. The Romanian transport sector, which received a hefty chunk, has projects in place to improve existing infrastructure, develop a sustainable urban transport system and complete the TEN-T core network in Romania. Some projects are now on hold, while decisions over the return of some funding are made.

European Commision Guidance for avoidance of common errors in public procurement

This EC guidance document is a useful tool to help civil servants from EU member states and, in fact, all practitioners to identify and avoid the most frequent errors in public procurement. ” … the correct and coherent implementation of public procurement rules results in benefits in terms of efficiency and effectiveness for everybody – for public administrations at national and regional level, for enterprises and for citizens. It helps us all make the most out of public investment and guarantee the maximum benefits from the EU funds. Yet, data show that a significant part of the overall total of errors in the spending of EU funds is due to an incorrect application of the EU rules on public procurement.” The guidance is structured around the six stages of a public procurement process from planning to contract implementation, highlighting issues to look out for and potential mistakes to avoid, with links to a more detailed toolkit. This guide is co-funded by the European Structural and Investment Fund and is a useful tool for your virtual bookshelf — it is available here.

Austrian winemaking industry fighting against European Union lawmakers

EurActiv Germany reports that the EU has found itself in dispute with Austrian winemakers over a regional brand of wine. “Currently, Uhudler wine can only be made in certain parts of the Burgenland and its production outside of these designated areas is prohibited under EU law, due to concerns of a phytosanitary nature … The European Parliament was asked in a written question last year why the ban, which lasts until 2030, is still in place … some wineries received clearing notices with an imposed deadline of 15 March. Specifically, those areas that had been planted and cultivated after 2003 were affected, as they are in breach of a planting prohibition. The winemakers that have been ordered to clear or ‘grub up’ their crop have, unsurprisingly, refused to do so, as they fundamentally disagree with the EU regulation governing the production of wine.” Local authorities are expected to enforce the law and order the offending individuals to comply with the notice — we shall see what happens!

E-procurement to make purchasing processes greener

See the GPP Issue no. 59 March 2016 News Alert for the latest  news on eProcurement being used to drive green public procurement (GPP) and improve the sustainability of procurement processes. “The Flemish Government is using e-procurement applications to monitor their goal of achieving 100 percent SPP by 2020, while in Rome (Italy) the city has introduced an innovative GPP monitoring system linked to a public procurement electronic information system … It is foreseen that integrating GPP into e-procurement will add to GPP knowledge and training and help to ensure compliance with green criteria. It will also improve visibility through monitoring and reporting of green outcomes and impacts.”