Public procurement represents roughly 14% of the EU GDP with a value of approximately EUR 1.8 trillion (2015 data). It is not only a crucial pillar of strategic governance and service delivery, but also a key economic activity. If used strategically, public procurement can improve the competitiveness of market economies, as well as help deliver major policy outcomes in response to today's societal and economic challenges, especially when it comes to creating sustainable growth and jobs.
Procurement has also an important impact on the EU structural and investment funds (ESI Funds), where almost half of these funds is spent via public contracts. Smart contracting helps to get the best value for money from ESI Funds.
Strategic public procurement should play a bigger role for governments and managing authorities to respond to societal, environmental and economic challenges. Mainstreaming green, social and innovative criteria, a more extensive use of pre-market consultation or qualitative assessments (MEAT) as well as procurement of innovative solutions at the pre-commercial stage requires not only a highly competent pool of public procurers but above all policy vision and political ownership. To achieve optimum outcomes in public procurement, strategic criteria need to be applied systematically. This can be facilitated by extensive practical support, such as dissemination of standards, methodologies for benchmarks, regular updates of labels and evaluation criteria and availability of a library of good practice.
In order to promote the use of strategic procurement in the context of Cohesion policy, DG REGIO finances a pilot project to offer practical "hands-on" support to five contracting and/or managing authorities in the EU Member States for strategic procurement initiatives.