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Report shows UK firms are sidelined in Europe

UK CONSULTANTS and contractors bidding for major jobs in mainland Europe are losing out to foreign competitors because of unscrupulous procurement procedures, a UK Treasury report published in November has revealed.

Major British consultants and contractors including Arup, Mott MacDonald, Balfour Beatty and Carillion responded to Siemens chief executive Alan Wood's Treasury-instigated inquiry.

Wood found evidence that even though single market rules govern the award of public contracts, UK firms are being sidelined.

'There is a lack of commitment to international competition and market liberalisation in some key sectors - such as defence, energy and transportation, ' Wood reports.

Wood cites a litany of unfair practices. These include examples of contracts being awarded to national suppliers even where foreign bidders for the work offered better quality or price.

Other examples cited include contract requirements being shaped to suit a given national supplier and pressure being applied to use local subcontractors.

There was also evidence of false competitions where there is no intention of awarding the contract to international bidders, Wood said.

And contracts are split to sidestep the EU requirement to advertise contracts in the Official Journal, the report claims.

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