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A strategy for e-procurement

The European economy must address the need to reduce public expenditure and to find new sources of economic growth. Full e-procurement could contribute to achieving these objectives. To this end, this Communication proposes a set of measures to promote the development of e-procurement in the European Union.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions [COM(2012) 179 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication defines the guidelines for a strategy for e-procurement.

What are the advantages of e-procurement?

Electronic processes offer several economic advantages. They can simplify the way procurement is conducted, reduce waste (in goods, services and works), and deliver a better quality service at a lower price. They can also make life significantly simpler for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by increasing the transparency of invitations to tender, by facilitating access and by reducing the costs of bidding for contracts (postage and printing costs, etc.).

These processes make it possible to maximise the efficiency of public expenditure and to find new sources of economic growth. Organisations which have already adopted e-procurement have achieved savings between 5 and 20 %. The total procurement market in the EU is estimated at more than EUR 2,000 billion, which means that a saving of 5 % would correspond to savings of about EUR 100 billion per year.

E-procurement also contributes to protecting the environment, for example by reducing paper consumption and transport.

Electronic processes also offer easier access to public procurement contracts, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and can therefore stimulate competition, innovation and growth within the internal market.

How can e-procurement be implemented?

The European Commission plans to implement several actions for e-procurement, such as:

  • creating an effective legal framework: in December 2011, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive on public procurement and a proposal for a Directive on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors. These proposals are intended to support the sharing of information and best practices, as well as a greater role for the e-Certis (DE) (EN) (FR) platform. To supplement this legislative framework, the Commission intends to improve the interoperability of electronic signature solutions and is currently revising the existing framework.
  • promoting practical solutions based on best-practices: the Commission advocates the implementation of non-legislative action, such as the installation of new generation IT technology, with the aim of simplifying and streamlining the purchase process. To this end, a group of experts is tasked with making recommendations aimed at promoting “best of breed” e-procurement solutions. The European Commission will also publish the results of a study aimed at identifying and disseminating best-practices in this field.
  • supporting the deployment of e-procurement infrastructure: the Commission has launched a pilot project called PEPPOL which aims to provide the interoperability bridges needed to connect the already existing e-procurement platforms. The Commission intends to support this project in the long term. It will also finance the development of e-procurement infrastructure through the Connecting Europe Facility, with assistance specifically from the structural funds.
  • developing a dissemination strategy: the Commission would like to inform contracting authorities and suppliers about the benefits of e-procurement. To this end, it intends to draw on the Europe Enterprise Network, as well as on the regions and cities of Europe through networking programmes such as INTERREG. The Commission will also organise an annual conference on developments in e-procurement in order to ensure the exchange of information between the stakeholders involved.
  • ensuring take-up is monitored: the development of a set of indicators is required in order to monitor the implementation of e-procurement. The Commission therefore proposes to create electronic systems to monitor procurement expenditure.
  • considering the international dimension of e-procurement: common international standards should be established in order to ensure better operability of public procurement contracts. To achieve this, the Commission intends to promote international regulatory dialogues on e-procurement. The first annual report on e-procurement will be published by mid-2013 and will detail the progress made in this area.


In the Single Market Act, the Commission expressed its wish to modernise the EU legal framework relating to public procurement contracts. The economic value of this sector is considerable: the total value of contracts governed by the current directives amounts to about EUR 447 billion. The introduction of electronic processes is expected to improve the effectiveness of public procurement contracts.

Last updated: 26.12.2012
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