Cutting red tape to cut costs of public sector purchases

April 19, 2016 1:05 PM

The EU's three latest directives for opening contracts by governments and other public bodies to foreign tenders, adopted in 2014, went fully into force this week. The directives cover large parts of the €1.9 trillion paid for public procurement every year in Europe. The new rules cut red tape and make it easier and cheaper for small- and medium-sized enterprises to bid for public contracts, the Commission said in a statement. It also said that greater competition in public tenders will ensure the best value for money for public purchases and minimize corruption. Politico Morning Trade reports:

Britain's environmental policies on air and water pollution and biodiversity benefit from the country's membership of the European Union, a committee of British lawmakers said in a report on Tuesday (18 April). EurActiv reports:

At least they talk - that's the message from yesterday's high-level talks on China's overproduction of steel, involving representatives from 35 countries, in Brussels. "We are encouraged by the start of the discussions, but we firmly believe more has to be done, beyond talking," said U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Robert Holleyman. Politico Morning Exchange reports:

The dispute over a planned exchange of market access offers with the South American trade bloc was front and center at yesterday's meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg. Fourteen countries [led by France] oppose granting Mercosur tariff reductions on sensitive issues such as beef meat imports, Spain's Foreign Minister José António García-Margallo told reporters. The atmosphere at the table "was not good," one senior diplomat told Politico Morning Trade, adding that it seems the political will to move on the planned trade agreement is diminishing:

An estimated 54 million Europeans [including about 5.85 million in the UK] suffer from energy poverty, according to a European Commission analysis, which blames rising prices, low income and energy inefficient homes for forcing people to choose between eating or heating, reports EurActiv…The responsibility for ending energy poverty lies with national governments but the European Commission's Energy Union strategy can be harnessed to help alleviate the problem:

The EU is to make plans for posting security experts to Libya and on moving its naval operation into Libyan waters following initial talks with the country's new government, reports EUobserver:

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has presented a 10-point "Schengen 2.0" plan, on changing the current EU system of border controls, to centrist parties in Lisbon, Portugal. Orban is to meet former German chancellor Helmut Kohl on Tuesday and will also present his ideas to central European states later on, reports EUobserver:

The EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, has demanded an urgent investigation from the Gambian authorities after a leading opposition activist was arrested - with Amnesty International reporting he has already died in police custody - reports EurActiv:

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans' launch in March of a consultation to improve the EU lobby register came seven months late. Does it herald a genuine step forward towards improved lobby transparency in Brussels, asks EUobserver:

In past decades, when faced with plebiscites on whether to embrace further European integration, voters across the Continent had a habit of slamming on the brakes - though in several instances they later changed their minds. The New York Times features a short history of EU referenda:

Courtesy of Peter Morris, European MOvement in the north east