Philip van Nieuwenhuizen, vice president of EBC (the European Builders Confederation), is one of the new members of the European Commission Stakeholder Expert Group on Public Procurement.
The appointment is effective immediately and will last for three years.
The EBC said that van Nieuwenhuizen combined a degree in public international law with extensive knowledge on public procurement as a result of his current roles as vice president of the Dutch association of construction SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) AFNL, and as president of ACA GWG, a Dutch body monitoring the correct application of national and European legislation on public procurement.
His main tasks in the Stakeholder Expert Group will be to ensure SMEs’ access to public tenders and equal participation conditions for SMEs.
The EBC said that public procurement made up about a third of government expenditures and therefore represented an important direct source of income for companies, including SMEs.
However, it claimed that access to public procurement was generally more difficult for SMEs than for larger firms. Barriers, it said, included a lack of information on procurement opportunities, large volumes and broad capabilities requests, restricted access to certain contracts, disproportionately high technical and financial qualification levels, short tender deadlines, submission costs, high insurance and financial guarantee requirements, administrative burdens and difficulties in identifying bidding partners.
With this in mind, EBC said it considered it essential not only to guarantee an equal, fair and direct access for all enterprises independent of their size, but also to avoid distorting criteria which put SMEs at a disadvantage.
EBC said that the European institutions needed to ensure the proper interpretation of Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement within the different European Member States.
“In that respect,” it said, “the European institutions should closely monitor how successful public procurement law is applied at the national, regional and local level, and further guide implementation, if necessary.”