The general European Community (European Union) Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC, also known as the Classic Directive, does not apply to public contracts in the special sectors covered by the Utilities Directive 2004/17/EC.
Here we look at the water sector.
Article 12 Procurement Directive
Article 12 of the Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC excludes the sectors to which the so called Utilities Directive 2004/17/EC applies as ‘lex specialis’: water, energy, transport and postal services:
S e c t i o n 3
Contracts in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors
This Directive shall not apply to public contracts which, under Directive 2004/17/EC, are awarded by contracting authorities exercising one or more of the activities referred to in Articles 3 to 7 of that Directive and are awarded for the pursuit of those activities, or to public contracts excluded from the scope of that Directive under Article 5(2) and Articles 19, 26 and 30 thereof.
However, this Directive shall continue to apply to public contracts awarded by contracting authorities carrying out one or more of the activities referred to in Article 6 of Directive 2004/17/EC and awarded for those activities, insofar as the Member State concerned takes advantage of the option referred to in the second subparagraph of Article 71 thereof to defer its application.
Exclusion of utilities explained
Recital 20 of the Procurement Directive refers to Directive 2004/17/EC, the so called Utilities Directive, and explains the exclusion of specific sectors from the Procurement Directive:
(20) Public contracts which are awarded by the contracting authorities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors and which fall within the scope of those activities are covered by Directive 2004/17/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors. However, contracts awarded by the contracting authorities in the context of their service activities for maritime, coastal or river transport must fall within the scope of this Directive.
Water sector excluded (and included)
The headline ‘water, energy, transport and postal services sectors’ gives us a rough indication of the activities, which fall under the Utilities Directive 2004/17/EC, but the scope of the Utilities Directive needs to be defined in order to determine when this Directive takes precedence.
The Utilities Directive is the primary source concerning public contracts awarded by contracting authorities exercising one or more of the activities referred to in Articles 3 to 7 of that Directive and awarded for the pursuit of those activities.
The water sector is excluded from the general Procurement Directive insofar as it is covered by the Utilities Directive. Article 4 of the Utilities Directive determines the water contracts covered by that Directive (subject to further precisions):
Article 4 Utilities Directive
1. This Directive shall apply to the following activities:
(a) the provision or operation of fixed networks intended to provide a service to the public in connection with the production, transport or distribution of drinking water; or
(b) the supply of drinking water to such networks.
2. This Directive shall also apply to contracts or design contests awarded or organised by entities which pursue an activity referred to in paragraph 1 and which:
(a) are connected with hydraulic engineering projects, irrigation or land drainage, provided that the volume of water to be used for the supply of drinking water represents more than 20 % of the total volume of water made available by such projects or irrigation or drainage installations, or
(b) are connected with the disposal or treatment of sewage.
3. The supply of drinking water to networks which provide a service to the public by a contracting entity other than a contracting authority shall not be considered a relevant activity within the meaning of paragraph 1 where:
(a) the production of drinking water by the entity concerned takes place because its consumption is necessary for carrying out an activity other than those referred to in Articles 3 to 7; and
(b) supply to the public network depends only on the entity's own consumption and has not exceeded 30 % of the entity's total production of drinking water, having regard to the average for the preceding three years, including the current year.