The European Commission will launch a consultation Thursday to get feedback on modernizing the European Union's public procurement policy.
The Commission says it wants to simplify the existing legislation to make it easier for businesses to bid for public contracts and to create a pan-European procurement market that would save public money.
Goods and services procured by public authorities currently account for around 17 percent of the E.U.'s GDP. However, in addition to the European institutions' own procurement, there is a huge knock-on effect. The Commission alone has 35,000 computers, but any standard formats are likely to be adopted by businesses.
In December the Commission announced it will spend €189 million (US$257 million) on proprietary software over the next six years, much to the concern of open source advocates. "This is a rough deal for Europe. Instead of coming up with a strategy to take advantage of free software and become independent of vendors, the Commission is digging itself deeper into the vendor lock-in hole," said Karsten Gerloff, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe.
The public consultation will take the form of a green paper and aims to ensure that proposals will be informed by the views of a wide range of stakeholders. The Commission is due to make its legislative proposals on the E.U. public procurement rules in 2012.