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Electronic procurement (e-procurement) refers to the use of electronic communication by public sector organisations when buying supplies and services or tendering public works. Increasing the use of e-procurement in Europe can generate significant savings for European taxpayers. Public entities that have already implemented e-procurement report savings of between 5% and 20% of their procurement expenditure. The total size of the EU's procurement market is estimated to be more than 2 trillion euro, so each 5% saved could result in about 100 billion euro of savings per year – which is equivalent to building more than 150 large size hospitals. These savings would maximise the efficiency of public spending in the current context of fiscal constraints.
E-procurement can also participate in providing new sources of economic growth and jobs. E-procurement can significantly simplify the life of companies, especially SMEs, by increasing the transparency of and access to tender opportunities and by reducing the costs of participating in a tender (reduced mail costs, less printing, etc.). Experience in the EU and beyond shows that the use of e-procurement has increased the participation of SMEs in public procurement procedures.
Despite these undisputable benefits, the EU is lagging behind both its own targets and internationally. E-procurement is still used in only 5-10% of procurement procedures carried out across the EU despite ambitious political targets.
The Digital Agenda for Europe and the eGovernment Action Plan 2011– 2015 highlighted the importance of connecting e-procurement capacities across the Single Market. In the context of the modernisation of the European Public procurement Directives, adopted in December 2011, the Commission has proposed to make e-procurement the rule rather than the exception, by making it the standard method of procurement in the EU by mid-2016.