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Activities in Scotland
Activities in Scotland

Reforming the Public Procurement Regime: Scottish Perspectives

On Friday 7th September 2012, the European Parliament Office in Edinburgh hosted a discussion about the reform of public procurement regime in the EU, relating particularly to a recent directive brought forward by the European Commission and intended to modernise existing public procurement legislation.

The European Parliament has been debating its position on the First Reading of the proposal for several months. A key vote is due to be held in the Internal Market Committee in October, ahead of the First Reading vote in December. The Parliament's rapporteur, Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, has welcomed the Commission's draft, but his initial report nonetheless proposed over 1500 amendments to it, even before other MEPs put forward their own amendments.

Speaking at the event were Mark Clough QC (Brodies LLP), Alyn Smith MEP and Catherine Stihler MEP. It was chaired by Duncan Ossler (MacRoberts LLP), who is a specialist in public procurement accredited by the Law Society of Scotland.

Mr Clough began by outlining the main themes of the Scottish Procurement Reform Bill's proposals, such as flexibility and simplicity; the strategic use of public procurement to foster innovation and to improve employment and social conditions; and allowing better access to the market for SMEs and start-ups. He concluded that there is a clearly intended overlap between the proposed Scottish Procurement Bill and the EU proposed Public Procurement Directive.

Alyn Smith MEP went on to emphasise his commitment to simplifying and streamlining the Scottish Bill (partly by removing repetitive methods in the prequalification process), and to encourage its overlap with the EU directive. He also supported a move away from an overly-cautious culture towards the Procurement Bill, ensuring that contracts are awarded fairly and efficiently. As the only Scottish member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, Catherine Stihler MEP explained its involvement with working through the amendments to the Bill in the coming weeks. She discussed the wider social implications of the bill and emphasised the importance of procedural sustainability.

A question and answer session followed, with attendees discussing issues regarding the Procurement Bill such as economic competition, non-discrimination, life cycle costs and the standardisation of documentation.