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European Commission – Press release

Modernising European public procurement to support growth and employment

Brussels, 20 December 2011: Each year, the public authorities spend 18% of GDP on goods, services and works. Given the current budgetary restrictions and economic difficulties in most Member States, public procurement policy must, more than ever, ensure the optimal use of funds in order foster growth and job creation and thereby help to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The revision of the public procurement Directives announced by the Commission today is part of an overall programme to thoroughly modernise public tendering in the European Union. This programme also includes a Directive on concessions, which until now have been only partially regulated at European level and present specific features which justify a separate text, while maintaining consistency with the general reform.

The reform of legislation on public procurement is one of the twelve priority actions set out in the Single Market Act adopted in April 2011 (IP/11/469). Indeed, the efficiency of public tendering has become a priority for all Member States, in view of the current budgetary constraints. We therefore need flexible, simple instruments which allow public authorities and their suppliers to conclude transparent, competitive contracts as easily as possible and at the best value for money.

Michel Barnier, European Commissioner responsible for the internal market and services, has declared: "This reform is necessary, ambitious and realistic. The current Directives have proven their worth. But directives must move with the times. I would like to make sure that the public procurement Directives become simpler and more effective and that they make life easier for those whose daily work involves public procurement. As for the proposed Directive on concessions, it represents the completion of the single market for public procurement and will, I hope, allow substantial gains in terms of the efficiency of public expenditure and economic growth in the years to come."

Background

The modernisation of the European rules on public tendering

The proposed reform aims to thoroughly modernise the existing tools and instruments.

1. The main objective is to simplify rules and procedures and make them more flexible. Therefore, the Commission proposes in particular:

  • the possibility of increased recourse to negotiation, thus enabling the contracting authorities to purchase goods and services which are better tailored to their needs at the best price;

  • the extension and, in the medium term, generalisation of electronic communication in public procurement, since it offers an essential means of simplifying public tendering;

  • a drastic cut in the administrative burden, including the number of documents required from economic operators, thereby making their lives easier.

2. Encourage access to public procurement for SMEs: access will be increased and made easier through measures to cut the administrative burden and strong incentives to divide tenders into lots and limit the financial capacity requirements for the submission of a tender.

3. At the same time, the proposed reform aims to facilitate a qualitative improvement in the use of public procurement by ensuring greater consideration for social and environmental criteria such as life-cycle costs or the integration of vulnerable and disadvantaged persons, thereby helping to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

4. The reform also includes:

  • improvements to the existing guarantees aimed at combating conflicts of interest, favouritism and corruption in order to better ensure the integrity of procedures, given the financial implications;

  • the appointment by the Member States of a single national authority responsible for monitoring, performing and checking public contracts to ensure that the rules are properly applied in practice.

The Directive on concessions: completing the legal framework for European public procurement

The proposed Directive on concessions covers the partnership agreements between a body which is generally public and a business which is often private, where the latter assumes the operative risk linked to maintenance and development of infrastructures (ports, water distribution, car parks, toll roads, etc.) or to the supply of services of general economic interest (energy, health, water supply and treatment, waste disposal, etc).

It aims to complete the European public procurement regime by including service concessions, the only concession not yet governed by secondary legislation. The proposed rules aim to establish a clear legal framework to ensure the necessary legal certainty for public authorities when performing their duties. They aim to guarantee effective access to the concessions market for all European businesses, including SMEs, and could thus help to stimulate the development of public-private partnerships, for which concessions constitute a tool of choice.

The Commission thus proposes the obligatory publication of concessions in the Official Journal of the European Union. It also proposes specifying the obligations of the contracting authorities as regards the choice of selection and award criteria, imposing certain basic guarantees which should be respected during the award procedure and extending the benefits of the Remedies Directive regarding public procurement to any person interested in obtaining a concession, as well as adopting certain clarifications on, for example, the concession amendments currently under way.

The envisaged provisions do not create an excessive administrative burden and will apply only to large concessions in cases with an evident cross-border interest.

Next stages

The Commission's proposals will be transmitted to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament with a view to launching the legislative procedure for their adoption, scheduled by the Single Market Act to take place before the end of 2012.

See also MEMO/11/931and MEMO/11/932.

For further information on EU public procurement policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/index_en.htm

Contacts:

Chantal Hughes (+32 2 296 44 50)

Carmel Dunne (+32 2 299 88 94)


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