The new European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) adopted today by the European Commission reduces considerably the administrative burden for companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who want to have a fair chance at winning a public contract. The ESPD will replace the current system which may differ drastically among Member States. While some countries have already introduced some form of a self-declaration of suitability, others require all interested parties to provide full documentary evidence of their suitability, financial status and abilities. The ESPD will allow all businesses to electronically self-declare that they meet the necessary regulatory criteria or commercial capability requirements, and only the winning company will need to submit all the documentation proving that it qualifies for the contract. To facilitate its use, a free, web-based system is being developed for Member States and businesses. As Member States can postpone the obligation to exclusively use electronic means of communication until 18 October 2018, the ESPD may be printed, filled in manually, scanned and sent electronically until then. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: "By reducing the volume of documents needed, the European Single Procurement Document will make it easier for companies to take part in public award procedures. Public administrations will benefit from a wider range of offers ensuring better quality and value for money." Today´s simplification of the tender procedure is one of the major elements of public procurement reform which will enter into force on 18 April 2016. (For more information see DG GROWTH website or contact Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Siobhan Millbright Tel.: +32 229 57361).
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the United Kingdom's plans to support the conversion of part of the Drax coal power plant to operate on biomass are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission fully supports Member State efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and pursue EU energy and climate objectives. At the same time, EU state aid rules make sure that the cost of such support for consumers is limited and does not give certain operators an unfair advantage over competitors. Therefore, the Commission will now investigate further to make sure that the public funds used to support the Drax project are limited to what is necessary and do not result in overcompensation. It will also assess whether the positive effects of the project in achieving EU energy and environmental objectives outweigh potential competition distortions in the market for biomass. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives the UK and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For further information, please contact Lucía Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: + 32 229 94889)
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 0.2% in December2015, stable compared to November2015, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, food, alcohol & tobacco is expected to have the highest annual rate in December (1.2%, compared with 1.5% in November), followed by services (1.1%, compared with 1.2% in November), non-energy industrial goods (0.5%, stable compared with November) and energy (-5.9%, compared with -7.3% in November). A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)