ICC responds to the EC proposal on third-country access to internal procurement markets
ICC’s Task Force on Public Procurement has responded to the European Commission’s (EC) proposed changes and updates to procurement rules for approval by the European Parliament and Council.
ICC’s response aims to promote discussions and foster further evaluations of the potential consequences of the proposal made on 21 March 2012. For the EC, the proposal should be urgently passed by the European legislative bodies due to the reluctance of some non-European Union (EU) countries to open up their markets further in the course of on-going multilateral or bilateral trade negotiations.
The task force reasserted that ICC, in accordance with its mandate, cannot support any instrument purporting to limit access to markets, irrespective of the developments in trade policy that may have prompted its introduction. Parts of the EC proposal might lead to such limitations, the task force concluded. Regarding procurement agreements, the task force infers from the proposed text that the EU and the EC will be given powers to determine which countries’ bidders are admissible to the EU markets and which are not. A possible corollary of the new logic established in the EC proposal is that, even if there are, at present, no issues with trade access with the third country concerned, it would introduce a presumption of access.
The ICC Task Force on Public Procurement also raised issues pertaining to the reality and complexities of procurement markets, which it feels the EC and the European legislative bodies should investigate further. The proposed text, ICC says, might go against the EC’s own goal of curtailing red tape, since the intricacies of rules of origin for goods and for services will likely result in long and costly procedures, if not trade conflicts and distortions of competition.
Practically, ICC suggests (1) a clarification of the rules on “abnormally low tenders” in public procurement, (2) the production of significantly more guidance for contracting authorities and bidders in the EU, and (3) it urges concerned actors to consider the increase of “anti-dumping” instruments that also cover the provision of services, before adding the EC proposal as such to the body of regulations.
Established in 2005, the ICC Task Force on Public Procurement gathers together business experts on public procurement from commercial organizations, companies, law firms and consultancies interested in promoting the ICC objectives in the field of public procurement.