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Hungary initiates regional cooperation in public procurement

A declaration of intent has been signed by the respective bodies of the V4 countries, along with Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia, to share best practices and experiences regarding EU checks into the use of EU funds.

The public procurement bodies from the Visegrád Group countries, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, as well as Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia, attended a joint meeting called by the Hungarian Public Procurement Authority.

The purpose of the event was to discuss best practices with the aim to boost efficiency of procurement in the participating countries. In signing the declaration of intent, the parties committed themselves to share the results of European Union audits concerning the use of EU funds as well.

"Our objective is to form a joint opinion of the V4 and other countries of the region in relation to audits concerning the use of EU funds," said Csaba Rigó, president of the Hungarian Public Procurement Authority. "This is necessary because Brussels would assess practices of member states differently when it comes to checking how EU funds were actually spent."

In certain cases, an issue might be labeled as an error to be remedied, whereas the same thing would not trigger any kind of criticism in other member states, Rigó continued.

"We would like to expose these controversies that clearly favor core member states," he said. "The idea is to push for a uniform auditing protocol, which can be achieved through joint action of regional cooperation."

The issue of procurement was specifically highlighted where there is only one bidder, which normally raises eyebrows among EU bureaucrats. However, in Poland for instance, the number of companies willing to perform the tasks subject to procurement tends to be so low that sometimes having one single bidder is already an achievement, argued Rigó.

It was further emphasized that one of the new powers the Hungarian Public Procurement Authority has is to check how public procurement contracts are implemented. "This authority task exists only in Hungary and it has been functioning great since its inception two years ago," said Rigó.

Cooperation between the signatories of the declaration of intent is set to continue in the form of conferences and seminars.