The European Single Procurement Document

The European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) came into force on 26 January 2016, is now aligned to UK procurements and its digital implementation across Europe will be completing in 2017. What more do you need to know and do?

The new EU Procurement Directives made provision for the introduction of a European Single Procurement Document (ESPD). This replaces the requirement for suppliers to provide up-front evidence or certificates by allowing them to self-declare that they meet the relevant selection and exclusion criteria. Bidders will now only be asked to provide proof of this at a later stage.

This is intended by the European Commission to remove some of the barriers to participation in public procurement, especially for Small and Medium Enterprise's (SME's). Significantly this standardisation also ensures international compliance, so that the same ESPD may also equally be used in any European member state. For this reason it also known colloquially as the European Procurement "Passport".

The ESDP covers those sections of, for example, a PQQ or ITT's selection and exclusion criteria, showing that the bidder does not fall within any of the mandatory exclusionary grounds and has the necessary economic/financial standing and technical and professional ability. These generally form Parts 1 and 2 of the selection criteria. A list of the exclusionary grounds may be found here (ref PPN8/16).

It is a form a self-certification of good standing intended to reduce the amount of documentation required from bidders at an early stage by avoiding the need for bidders to submit additional evidence and documentation in support of the statements made in the ESPD. This evidence and supporting documentation can then be requested by the contracting authority at a subsequent time where necessary "for the conduct of the procedures". This now sensibly allows that contracting authorities only need check and confirm those documents from bidders who may be considered for a contract award, after shortlisting. It avoids the previous checking of compliance required for each and every bidder, whilst ensuring bidders may use one standard submission for each and every bid.

The ESPD, which will be adopted by all EU member states in 2017, is set out by the European Commission in an Implementing Regulation. Authorities will be required to accept the ESPD in 2017, and in the UK according to the times set out below. Paper/Word copies of the ESPD may be used only up until the 2017 adoption of the full digital service, it will then be only a digital.

This will effectively mean the end of the selection and exclusion criteria set out independently within PASS91, the former Crown Commercial Service's (CCS) standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and any local PQQs used by public bodies. The new CCS standard selection criteria for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, aligned to the ESPD, are now set out in Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 8/16.

The ESPD is a digital system. The supporting compliance documentation for an ESPD may be entered by digital links, where such information can be publicly shared (this could be via your company cloud or other shareable digital service) or to links of a certified authority. Its full capacity will only be realised and most effective however in reducing bureaucracy when for example the certifying authorities are, in the case of design professionals, their own professional bodies. In this way a once only annual entry to a professional register could provide the digital link to allow completion of the ESPD, further saving duplication of time and resources.

Note a pre qualification stage should not be used in any procurement below the EU thresholds for supplies and services. To assess appropriate bidders only simple, relevant and proportionate questions maybe asked in below threshold procurements.

Timing

For all procurements above the EU thresholds public bodies must issue and accept the ESPD. This will replace existing standard pre-qualification questionnaire (sPQQ) and any local PQQs used by public bodies.

England, Wales and N. Ireland:

Scotland

Europe generally

How to fill out and Use an ESPD can be found here.

Further ESPD Guidance may be found here.