Thursday 13 November 2008

Introducing EU Public Procurement Directive

The remaining EU Public Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC recitals form the backbone of this introductory blog post. The Directive is in force in the European Economic Area (EEA).


Registration of contractors

Recital 45 deals with registration and certification of suppliers:

(45) This Directive allows Member States to establish official lists of contractors, suppliers or service providers or a system of certification by public or private bodies, and makes provision for the effects of such registration or such certification in a contract award procedure in another Member State. As regards official lists of approved economic operators, it is important to take into account Court of Justice case-law in cases where an economic operator belonging to a group claims the economic, financial or technical capabilities of other companies in the group in support of its application for registration. In this case, it is for the economic operator to prove that those resources will actually be available to it throughout the period of validity of the registration. For the purposes of that registration, a Member State may therefore determine the level of requirements to be met and in particular, for example where the operator lays claim to the financial standing of another company in the group, it may require that that company be held liable, if necessary jointly and severally.


Award criteria

Only two award criteria are allowed: the lowest price or the most economically advantageous tender. Recital 46 of the Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC offers a lengthy description of how these criteria are to be ensured:

(46) Contracts should be awarded on the basis of objective criteria which ensure compliance with the principles of transparency, non-discrimination and equal treatment and which guarantee that tenders are assessed in conditions of effective competition. As a result, it is appropriate to allow the application of two award criteria only: ‘the lowest price’ and ‘the most economically advantageous tender’.

To ensure compliance with the principle of equal treatment in the award of contracts, it is appropriate to lay down an obligation — established by case-law — to ensure the necessary transparency to enable all tenderers to be reasonably informed of the criteria European Parliament and arrangements which will be applied to identify the most economically advantageous tender. It is therefore the responsibility of contracting authorities to indicate the criteria for the award of the contract and the relative weighting given to each of those criteria in sufficient time for tenderers to be aware of them when preparing their tenders. Contracting authorities may derogate from indicating the weighting of the criteria for the award in duly justified cases for which they must be able to give reasons, where the weighting cannot be established in advance, in particular on account of the complexity of the contract. In such cases, they must indicate the descending order of importance of the criteria.

Where the contracting authorities choose to award a contract to the most economically advantageous tender, they shall assess the tenders in order to determine which one offers the best value for money. In order to do this, they shall determine the economic and quality criteria which, taken as a whole, must make it possible to determine the most economically advantageous tender for the contracting authority. The determination of these criteria depends on the object of the contract since they must allow the level of performance offered by each tender to be assessed in the light of the object of the contract, as defined in the technical specifications, and the value for money of each tender to be measured.

In order to guarantee equal treatment, the criteria for the award of the contract should enable tenders to be compared and assessed objectively. If these conditions are fulfilled, economic and qualitative criteria for the award of the contract, such as meeting environmental requirements, may enable the contracting authority to meet the needs of the public concerned, as expressed in the specifications of the contract. Under the same conditions, a contracting authority may use criteria aiming to meet social requirements, in response in particular to the needs — defined in the specifications of the contract — of particularly disadvantaged groups of people to which those receiving/using the works, supplies or services which are the object of the contract belong.


National provisions

Recital 47 mentions certain national provisions not to be affected by the award criteria:

(47) In the case of public service contracts, the award criteria must not affect the application of national provisions on the remuneration of certain services, such as, for example, the services performed by architects, engineers or lawyers and, where public supply contracts are concerned, the application of national provisions setting out fixed prices for school books.


Flexible amendments

Recital 48 refers to the need for flexible amendments to technical conditions and other changing information:

(48) Certain technical conditions, and in particular those concerning notices and statistical reports, as well as the nomenclature used and the conditions of reference to that nomenclature, will need to be adopted and amended in the light of changing technical requirements. The lists of contracting authorities in the Annexes will also need to be updated. It is therefore appropriate to put in place a flexible and rapid adoption procedure for this purpose.


Implementing measures

Recital 49 of the Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC refers to needed implementing measures:

(49) The measures necessary for the implementation of this Directive should be adopted in accordance with Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission (1).

(1) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.


Time limits

Calculation of time limits is evoked in recital 50:

(50) It is appropriate that Council Regulation (EEC, Euratom) No 1182/71 of 3 June 1971 determining the rules applicable to periods, dates and time limits (2) should apply to the calculation of the time limits contained in this Directive.

(2) OJ L 124, 8.6.1971, p. 1.


Transposition of old directives

The new Directive does not eliminate the obligation to transpose the old ones:

(51) This Directive should not prejudice the time limits set out in Annex XI, within which Member States are required to transpose and apply Directives 92/50/EEC, 93/36/EEC and 93/37/EEC.


Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC

A notice to those readers, who want to study the Procurement Directive.

Throughout, because of amendments, we refer to the consolidated version of 1 January 2008 of the Procurement Directive, officially Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts (OJ 30.4.2004 L 134/114):

The Directives and Regulations mentioned in the footnotes have not necessarily been checked for amendments.

Ralf Grahn

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