Single procurement document launched

The recently launched European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) will make it easier for SMEs to compete for public contracts.


First proposed in the EU’s 2014 Directive on Procurement, the European Commission recently announced that it will roll out the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) in April.

The document is intended to make life easier for suppliers wishing to participate in public procurement by reducing the administrative burden and simplifying the participation of buyers and suppliers in public procurement procedures. The ESPD will replace the current system, which can differ drastically between member states.

Some countries have already introduced some form of self-declaration of suitability, others require all interested parties to provide full documentary evidence of their suitability, financial status and abilities. The ESPD will allow all businesses across the EU to electronically self-declare that they meet the necessary regulatory criteria or commercial capability requirements. Only the winning company will need to submit all the documents proving that it qualifies for the contract.

This change will suit many SMEs who had previously viewed the significant amount of certificates related to exclusions and selection criteria as a major obstacle to their participation in public procurement.

The ESPD will work as a self-declaration document intended for preliminary evidence and facilitating cross-border participation of potential bidders in public procurement procedures. To facilitate its use, a free, web-based system is being developed for member states and businesses. As member states do not have to comply with the obligation to exclusively use electronic communication until October 2018, the ESPD can be printed, filled in manually, scanned and sent electronically.

The web-based system is based on a data model that was developed in cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders active in the field of standardisation. Funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will be made available to facilitate the integration of the ESPD into existing electronic procurement solutions. The ESPD will allow for the reuse of data filled in by businesses in previous procurement procedures and will be the entry point for the digitisation of the qualification phase of public procurement.

Procurers will be able to use the ESPD service to define the to-be-evaluated exclusion and selection criteria, prefill the ESPD and provide it in a structured way to potential bidders. When the procurer receives the completed ESPDs from the bidders, a summary table can be generated for the procurer to get an overview of all bidders’ compliance with the criteria.

The ESPD includes a form for sharing feedback with the European Commission in order to improve the quality of the service. In an effort to encourage cross-border bidding, the ESPD will be linked to e-Certis, a tool that helps clarify what kind of certificates and attestations are required by procurers in their own or other countries.

Speaking about the new system, the Commissioner responsible for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska claimed the changes will benefit both public administrations and companies. “By reducing the volume of documents needed, the European Single Procurement Document will make it easier for companies to take part in public award procedures. Public administrations will also benefit from a wider range of offers ensuring better quality and value for money,” she said.

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