Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christopher Bovis
Chapter 16: EU public procurement and probity
‘The people who can best describe corruption are those themselves engaged in corruption.’ This chapter deals with the connection between public procurement and probity; it examines the legal background – including the previous Public Procurement Directives and the current new Directives – to the prevention of corruption and fraud in procurement procedures. Our assumption is that the use of traditional instruments may be inadequate in the struggle for ethical public procurement. Prevention and access to relevant, procurement-related information on the part of the legislator are as much part of the subject matter as the independent audit activity of the contracting authorities and the focus on the real meaning and content of probity. Public procurement is not the cause of corruption but a consequence of social and economic problems. A high level of corruption depends not only on the attitudes of the public procurement market, but also on that of society in general. The legal background can help prevent the misuse of public procurement but cannot change the habits of the market players. That is why it is necessary to use the Public Procurement Directives also to create a culture, to call attention to the fact that not only the conflict of interest rules or mandatory exclusion may lead to success in our endeavours for more ethical procurement.
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