In May this year, a network of procurement practitioners in the field of security was established in the course of iProcureNet project. The European Commission-funded network aims to create conditions for and facilitate cross-border joint procurement of internal security products and services. Estonia is represented in the network by the Police and Border Guard Board and the University of Tartu as the only academic partner.
The network will make it possible for public agencies of different countries to carry out cross-border joint procurement. To this end, 15 partners from 11 European countries, incl. Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain, Cyprus, Lithuania, Portugal, France, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, have joined forces. The work will involve contracting authorities, legal and innovation experts, researchers and end users.
The new network will have several advantages. According to Marine Thevenin, representative of the French Ministry of Interior, the joint procurement of security solutions will optimise costs and create a common European market in the field of security.
Internal security procurements are specific and complex by nature. For example, they may include orders of body armour, bomb detection robots or other specific technical equipment, none of which are regular consumer goods. “On the other hand, countries have very similar needs and, for instance, the Finnish and Estonian Police could perfectly procure security products jointly in the future,” said Hannes Järvine, Lead Law Enforcement Officer of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.
The Police and Border Guard Board is in charge of the project feasibility analysis and preparing of recommendations. All the information concerning joint procurement will hopefully soon be available on a website.
A team led by Associate Professor Mari Ann Simovart at the School of Law of the University of Tartu will analyse the project from legal aspects and work out joint procurement methods. “Although the law already allows countries to jointly procure products and services, there are no specific instructions or reliable methods for actually conducting cross-border procurement in such a sensitive and complex field as internal security,” Simovart said.
Many issues need a legal solution. “For example, we need to consider which law should be applied at each stage, how to conduct cooperation from the preparation of public procurement to the delivery of the order, and what the main legal risks are in joint procurement, for instance, in the case of confidential procurement,” Simovart explained.
The project also analyses innovation opportunities – internal security agencies may sometimes need a service or a product that does not exist yet. “The option to order an innovative product or service through public procurement must definitely be included in the international security procurement system right from the beginning. This, however, is not an easy task,” Järvine said.
In the course of the iProcureNet project, participants seek cooperation with as many partners as possible, including law enforcement authorities, non-governmental organisations, other EU project leaders, and policy-makers.
The project is funded by Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research and innovation. Read more about the project on the European Commission’s website.