Procurement rules: EU Union do not always follow own rules

Procurement rules: President of the European Court of Auditors, Vitor Manuel da Silva Caldeira
Procurement rules: EU Union do not always follow own rules


Four major EU institutions receives audit criticism for not following up on the European Union’s own procurement rules. Furthermore, it is particular difficult to find the announcement of the acquisitions, and relevant available information is presented in an inconsistent manner that gets the most agitated criticism.

In a report from the European Court of Auditors, it is stated that the EU-institutions can do more to facilitate their access to public procurement. The Court of Auditors is the European Unions means of control for the collection and use of the Union’s resources. The Court of Auditors is one of the EU’s seven institutions.

The four main EU institutions had their procurement under audit investigations. In 2014, about 4 billion euros was acquired by these actors.


No systematic monitoring.

Some of the findings of the auditors was that most institutions do not systematically monitor the extent of the offers that came in. The conclusion; all institutions should collect and analyze all tender or prequalification applications and the total number of offers at the time of announcing the award.

In 2014, the European Parliament implemented the amendments in directives to simplify the procurement process and reduce the administrative aspects of it. The main intention was to make it easier for small to medium businesses to participate in competitions. The auditors found that the EU institutions the following year did not simplify their own rules as asked for.


Special calls for SMEs.  

The auditors encourage the Commission to collect relevant decision in a dedicated book for public procurement. Especially, it is emphasized that SMEs should be encouraged to participate.

The institutions had no set regulations on performing a market study in advance of the formal procurement. The auditors’ advice is that the institutions, when appropriate, uses proactive market research to improve the acquisition and inform potential suppliers in their procurement plans.

Another piece of advice would be to split the contract, if possible. The intention is to increase participation in competitions that the four EU institutions are doing.


Agitated criticism.

Regarding the possibility of finding respective acquisition, the criticism is agitated. They are not sufficiently visible online, and the information that is available is presented in an inconsistent manner and is spread across a variety of web sources. The search function in TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) did not always give satisfactory results. Tools for electronic submission of tenders is not yet launched on a comprehensive and harmonized way. A common point of contact on the web should be established for such acquisitions, writes the audit.

As stated by the auditors, improvements is also needed in terms of the right of appeal and opportunity to the public to effectively monitor procurement activities of these institutions.


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This article first appeared at Anbud365, Norway's leading online newspaper for public procurement. Published by Lennart Hovland 01. September 2016. The full article can be read in Norwegian here.

Other sources: 
>> Report from the European Court of Auditor:

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