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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]

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Statement on behalf of the European Union to the 5th UN Committee on Procurement Reform

Date of Speech : 07-03-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Karl Van Den Bossche

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.

First of all, please allow me to thank the Director of Facilities and Commercial Services Division, Ms. McDonald, and the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, Mr. Nair, for presenting the documents in front of us today, as well as the Chairman of the ACABQ, Mr. Kuznetsov, for introducing their related report.

Mr. Chairman,

The European Union attaches great importance to the reports in front of us on the review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations, as they all constitute a means of enhancing transparency and accountability within the Organisation.

We welcome the positive developments and measures which have taken place in UN procurement reform. We have noted with appreciation the progress made towards strengthened cooperation within the UN system through the Inter-Agency Procurement Working Group and the Common Services Procurement Working Group with a view to avoiding duplication and increasing efficiency.

We recognise the progress made in the harmonization and streamlining of procurement practices and encourage efforts in this regard. In order to simplify the registration process, a newly designed Internet-based vendor registration system, the United Nations Global Marketplace, was launched last year. We urge all organisations of the UN system, including the field missions in coordination with DPKO as well as with DPA (SPM) and other field offices, to participate in this system.

Furthermore, the European Union welcomes that the recommendation to carry out a review of vendor management has already been undertaken. Sharing responsibility among the various organisations of the United Nations system enables eliminating duplication of administrative effort and making the registration process more efficient and timely. We also appreciate the efforts to share best practices through the procurement message board.

The European Union welcomes the increased participation of vendors from developing countries and countries with economies in transition and looks forward to further improvement with a view to increasing the supplier diversity. While stressing the importance of such trend we continue to underline the necessity of maintaining the principle of awarding contracts to the most economical bids, assessed with due regard to quality and best value for money. We also recognise the increase in the number of seminars conducted and the creation of a standing working group in this connection. We concur with the ACABQ to steer the current approach of the seminars to become more results-oriented.

We note with appreciation the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the Board of Auditors as well as the Joint Inspection Unit. In this regard, we welcome the efforts of the Procurement Service which has effectively addressed many of the concerns previously raised by Member States and has developed a number of initiatives to improve professionality and efficiency. One of these, a system known as eHCC allows the electronic processing of presentations to the Headquarters Committee on Contracts thereby speeding up the procurement process. The revised Procurement Manual and information relevant to procurement issues on the websites of UN organisations should be updated regularly in all six official languages.

We welcome further efforts to simplify and streamline the vendor registration process, and look forward to the ready issuance of the ethical guidelines for procurement staff and their distribution to the UN members. Like the ACABQ, we believe that information regarding the accountability factor within the procurement reform framework should be provided in the next report. Furthermore, we welcome the increasing extent to which the principles of the Global Compact are taken into account in the procurement process.

The European Union agrees that training programmes could be focused on a train-the-trainers approach, which would enable junior personnel to be trained in a cost-effective and efficient way. We understand the importance of meeting the specific training needs of staff, including at field missions. We welcome the development by the Inter Agency Procurement Working Group, under the guidance of the UN System Staff College of a system-wide procurement training and certification program .We see the need for enhancing further cooperation between the Procurement Service and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to improve field procurement.

Mr. Chairman,

Air safety is of primary importance. Therefore the European Union welcomes the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services in its Audit of safeguarding air safety standards while procuring air services for the United Nations peacekeeping missions and expresses its appreciation for the progress already made in this regard. In our view, all the recommendations must be fully implemented and a time-frame for this purpose must be established.

We have also studied the report on outsourcing practices and, in this regard, have taken note of the respective cost savings. The European Union continues to emphasise the importance of programme managers to be guided by the basic criteria for outsourcing.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion we note with interest that the volume of procurement has increased significantly in recent years and therefore we stand ready to take further steps as needed to ensure best practices and standards in the process. We are looking forward to our deliberations on all of the issues and to reaching a successful outcome.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

*Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

This page was last modified on : 07-03-2005

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