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02 Bidding for public sector contracts - Pg. 11

11 Bidding for public sector contracts The EU procurement framework 02 The term `public sector' as used in EU member states covers central govern- ment, regional and local authorities, utilities, European institutions such as the European Commission and its related programmes and other bodies governed by public law. Across the individual member states the value of public sector procurement ­ ie the purchase of goods, services and public works by governments and public utilities ­ ranges from about 12 per cent to 20 per cent of gross domestic product. All public sector authorities are subject to European public procurement rules, intended to secure open and fair competition, transparent and audit- able contracting procedures and equal access to contract opportunities for all EU suppliers. Utilities (defined as entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors) are required to comply with procure- ment rules that differ in some points of detail from those applying to other parts of the public sector. Public procurement rules are defined in a series of EU directives imple- mented at a national level through regulations and other forms of legislation. The purpose of the procurement rules is not so much to establish consistent procedures across the EU member states as to eliminate discriminatory and uncompetitive practices counter to the public interest, and to ensure that public funds are spent in a way that achieves best value for money. Authorities in the UK are able to apply their own procedures for tendering and contract award on the basis of standing orders, provided these do not infringe EU rules or the requirements of UK legislation and government accounting principles. Public sector contracts for services and consultancy in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are governed principally by the following regulations: The Public Contracts Regulations 2006 as amended in 2009; The Utilities Contracts Regulations 2006 as amended in 2009.