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The role of public procurement in supporting SMEs towards sustainable recovery


16 Feb 2021


Sustainable Dev.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many parts of the economy hard and placed immense strain on people, industry and economies as a whole. OECD findings confirm that SMEs particularly suffered, with over half of them facing severe losses in revenue, and many will go out of business. In an attempt to help support struggling businesses and the vast number of jobs they provide, governments around the world have been providing loans, grants and bailouts to businesses to help them weather this storm. In the EU, together with Member States, the European Commission has responded to these emerging needs by adapting EU legislation and facilitating financing for European businesses to help them stay alive. But in order to achieve a recovery and a strong and inclusive economy, we need to restart economic growth rapidly.

Part of the solution could lie in another form of cash-injection that governments have also at their disposal, and which  is often overlooked – public procurement. Usually representing about one-third of total government expenditure, public procurement can be used to achieve multiple goals at once through the vast amount of public money spent on these contracts. The EU Council  adopted in November 2020 a set of conclusions centred on how efficient public procurement rules and practices, combined with increased public spending, can accelerate the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and lead to a sustainable and more resilient EU economy, a call echoed in ACCA’s new report called  New models of Public Procurement : a tool for sustainable recovery .Governments can help struggling SMEs by simply buying from them through open, competitive and transparent public procurement contracts. However, many SMEs currently face significant barriers to bidding and winning public procurement contracts – lengthy and difficult bidding processes, lack of knowledge about upcoming contracts, limited resources to bid on contracts among others.

ACCA, SMEunited and the EBRD are  thus delighted to invite you to  a  lively web-conference to  examine these issues – what are the obstacles SMEs face? How can governments reduce these barriers to promote better SME inclusion in public procurement contracts? And as a result – how can governments both deliver high-quality goods and services while supporting businesses that need help through this difficult period, and use public procurement as a strategic tool to foster sustainable and innovative growth, while reducing administrative burdens and compliance costs at the same time?

Draft agenda

11.00am  Welcome &  Presentation of the  New models of Public Procurement : a tool for sustainable recovery report by Rachel Bleetman, Public Sector expert,  and Aleksandra Zaronina, Head of SME Affairs, ACCA

11.10-11.20am Views from the European Commission, Katharina Knapton- Vierlich, Head of Unit, Public Procurement Strategy, DG GROW

11.20am  Discussion moderated by Gerhard Huemer, Director Economic Affairs, SMEunited

  • Mathieu Cahen, Senior Policy Analyst, Public Procurement, OECD
  • Eliza Niewiadomska , Senior counsel in charge of the public procurement sector at the Legal Transition Programme, EBRD
  • Philippos Katranis, Head of Public Procurement Directorate, Treasury of the Republic of Cyprus

12.05pm Q&As

12.15pm Keynote concluding remarks, Ondřej KOVAŘÍK, MEP

12.25pm Conclusions, SMEunited 




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