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Supporting SME access to public contracts

Posted March 10th, 2017

THE Government is fully committed to maximising access for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to public contracts, while ensuring that the State gets value for money and meets its obligations under EU law. As things stand, 95pc of the public procurement spend is within the State.

I am in favour of including social clauses in public tenders. As chair of the Government’s SME working group, I am, however, aware of concerns that business representatives have expressed about using a ‘blanket’ approach to social clauses.

We debated this recently in the Dáil, where I stated: “Overall, the Government supports the principle of social clauses and sees significant merit in developing an effective approach to their use. Any legislation and guidance must comply with the fundamental principles of EU law, including the free movement of goods and services, equal treatment, non-discrimination and transparency.”

Watch my speech on this Bill here (from 25.30).