The NHS Confederation has urged the European Commission to simplify laws on public procurement and make it easier to negotiate better deals.
In a response to a European Commission consultation, the confederation called for procurement rules to be made more flexible, allowing for greater negotiation with bidders during the selection process and when awarding contracts.
The response said trusts particularly wished to see an increase in the threshold at which EU rules applied to contracts.
Currently the rules apply to all contracts above £100,000 for items such as drugs and equipment and £156,000 for clinical services.
But when contracts are linked with a bigger scheme the laws can apply to those worth as little as £25,000.
It can take about six months to complete the EU procurement process, with the cost of running a tender ranging from £37,000 to £221,000.
The confederation’s European office director Elisabetta Zanon said: “In the current climate these rules need to be driving savings and innovation, not lumbering organisations with additional cost and paperwork.”
The consultation will feed into EU plans to revise procurement legislation, expected to be published later this year.
The Confed said another question was which bodies fall under the rules. Ms Zanon said: “It will be essential to have clear and concise rules in place about how newly established GP commissioners will be expected to award contracts.”