New working paper on EU Public Procurement Policy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution


I have submitted a paper to the call for papers of the Annual EU Law and Policy Conference ‘EU Law in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ that will take place in January 2020 (the CfP is still open until 8 September 2019, in case you are interested too).

The theme of the conference invites a reflection on the dual role of the EU as a Regulatory and Industrial ‘State’, so I have put together some thoughts on recent trends in EU procurement policy from that perspective in a new SSRN working paper: ‘EU Public Procurement Policy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Pushing and Pulling as One?‘ (6 Aug 2019). The abstract of the paper is as follows:

Innovation in digital technologies is triggering a variety of regulatory and policy responses by the EU. Fostering innovation is at the core of the EU’s industrial strategy and public procurement is becoming one of its main tools. The EU has reactivated its efforts to promote (digital) innovation procurement and is harnessing procurement market access as a trade defence for its innovation industry. The EU is clearly trying to use its buying power as an innovation pull to increase the readiness of the EU’s economy for the fourth industrial revolution. However, this effort is somehow constrained by the Member States’ diverging approaches and levels of engagement.

At the same time, innovative digital technologies hold the promise of a significant impact in the governance and practice of public procurement, and the EU is pushing for digitalisation as a lever to improve public services and to facilitate data analysis experimentation. However, a much-delayed and patchy implementation of eProcurement in most Member States and an inconsistent and timid approach to the regulation of public procurement data stand in the way of a true revolution and can prevent the public sector from leading by example.

In this paper, I reflect on the tensions inherent to this dual use of public procurement as an innovation pull through market power and trade leverage, and as a push for the digitalisation of procurement in the EU, as well as on the tensions between EU and Member State responses.

This is still very much an exploratory draft, so I would welcome comments and feedback, as I plan to revise the paper if it is accepted for the conference.