Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christopher Bovis
Chapter 9: Strategic EU public procurement and small and medium size enterprises
Public procurement, the process by which governments and regional and local public authorities or bodies governed by public law purchase products, services and public works, represents large volumes of public spending each year. According to recent surveys, within the OECD, public procurement accounted for an average of roughly one-third of all general government expenditure in 2011. Furthermore, estimates made by the European Commission put the total value of expenditure by general government and utilities on public works, goods and services in the European Union (EU) in 2011 at €2.406 billion, some 19 per cent of the Union’s GDP, and a large part of this purchasing is subject to public procurement rules, either national or EU regimes. Public contracts under the latter – normally purchases above a set of value thresholds set in EU public procurement secondary law – accounted for about €425 billion in 2011 (3.4 per cent of EU GDP), showing a substantial growth over the past decade. Based on these figures, public procurement is of tremendous economic significance for the Union’s economy. Given its economic significance, public procurement has the potential to influence the market in terms of production and consumption trends in favour of environmentally friendly, socially responsible and innovative products and services on a large scale. In recent years, public procurement has been widely recognized as an instrument offering possibilities that go beyond its fundamental objectives, that is, the efficient utilization of public funds when acquiring works, services or goods.
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