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European Single Procurement Document - First report by the European Commission

  • Ireland
  • General

15-06-2017

In May 2017, the European Commission published its first report on the European Single Procurement Document (“ESPD”). By way of brief reminder, the ESPD is a key element of Directive 2014/24 and is a standard form of self-declaration for bidders in above threshold tender processes which allows those bidders to declare whether they fall within any of the exclusion grounds (eg criminal convictions, grave professional misconduct, etc) and whether they satisfy the selection criteria (economic and financial standing and technical and professional ability).

The objective behind the introduction of the ESPD was to obviate the need for bidders to produce large amounts of documentary evidence relating to exclusion and selection criteria at the time of submitting requests to participate or tenders, thereby alleviating the administrative burden on both contracting authorities and bidders, particularly SMEs. The intention was that only the successful bidder would be required, prior to contract award, to submit up-to-date documentary evidence, subject to the caveat that where it is necessary to ensure “the proper conduct of the procedure”, a contracting authority is entitled to request the submission of evidence from a bidder or bidders at any time during the procurement procedure. At the time of introduction of the standard form ESPD (in January 2016), the Commission undertook to review its practical application by April 2017 and report to the European Parliament and Council thereon.

Findings of the report

In order to inform the report, an online survey of Member States was carried out. The results can be summarised as follows:

  • 22 Member States had started to use the ESPD by December 2016; the lack of uptake by the remaining six Member States was due to the failure by those Member States to transpose the new Directives into national law.
  • Use of the paper form of the ESPD predominates: of the Member States which have started to use the ESPD, more than 80% are using it in paper format, and this is in spite of the fact that use of the paper form will no longer be permitted from 18 April 2018. The report concludes that use of the paper form means that Member States are missing out on “the potential simplification deriving from the use of the ESPD which fosters the digitisation of the public procurement process".
  • For below threshold contracts and concessions, 61% of For further information, please contact: Member States indicated that they did not intend to use the
    ESPD, although a relatively large group of Member States have made use of the ESPD mandatory for such contracts.
  • It is still too early to provide a quantitative estimation of the impact on companies of using the ESPD (although Croatia reported an 83% reduction for bidders in the cost of preparing bids).
  • As for qualitative assessment of the impact of the ESPD, there is a large variation in the views of Member States, with some, such as Germany, Denmark and Spain reporting that the ESPD has been “thoroughly criticised by enterprises and buyers alike”. Ireland is reported as acknowledging that the initial implementation of the ESPD has been “challenging”. Chief amongst the list of perceived disadvantages of the ESPD are that it is overly complicated and too long and has actually resulted in an increase of the administrative burden on bidders.

A further survey by the Commission of key stakeholders (including European associations representing buyers and sellers from different sectors) also revealed concerns about the ESPD, in particular the complexity of the form.

Conclusions

The report concludes that Member States are not yet exploiting the full potential of the ESPD and that very few Member States have developed a national solution for it. It also concludes that there is, to date, insufficient experience of using the ESPD amongst Member States to determine whether it ought to be amended, with only three Member States making suggestions for change. In this context, the Commission has undertaken to carry out a more thorough assessment of the ESPD in 2019.


Áine Smith
Consultant
+353 1 6441 474
ainesmith@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Peter Curran
Partner
+353 1 6644 990
petercurran@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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