Public Group on Fragility and Crisis Situations

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N° 6 - Using Flexible Procedures in Situations of Conflict and Fragility

Page created by
Mihaela Haliciu23 March 2015


Topic overview


  • It is good practice to use some form of enhanced competition rather than none at all.
  • Flexible procedures are used in crisis situations, but often, because of the crisis, they are not necessarily faster or less complicated than the normal procedures followed in non-crisis situations.
  • The use of flexible procedures is usually more demanding rather than less demanding of expertise and familiarity with procurement and negotiation skills.
  • Flexible procedures are not common even within crisis declaration countries, but when used strategically they can provide significant benefits.
  • The use of flexible procedures introduces new risks and puts a decision burden on those involved.

Situations of conflict and fragility are complicated and fast changing. In addition to the variety of modalities and instruments that allow the EU both to react rapidly and develop the basis for long-term transition and change, there is a need for flexible procedures within these instruments and modalities — as highlighted by the EC (then the Commission of the European Communities) in its 2007 Communication on an EU response to situations of fragility.

Each year and in response to emergencies, the EC establishes a crisis declaration list. For countries on the crisis list and where justified, grants can be awarded without a call for proposals, and negotiated procedures used for the procurement of services, supplies and works. In this way, the procurement of essential goods and services can be hastened and undertaken in situations where normal procedures would not work. Additional elements of flexibility can be applied (Box 1); it is also possible to apply for derogations that are available for non-crisis countries — such as rules of origin and nationality, proof of non-reimbursement of taxes, etc.

BOX 1 Additional elements of flexibility for crisis situations

  • Annual programming. In a crisis situation, grants can be made that were not foreseen in the annual programme.
  • Retroactivity. In a crisis situation, expenditure incurred by a beneficiary before the date of submission of an application may be eligible for EU financing (although a grant may not be awarded retroactively for actions already completed).
  • Co-financing. In a crisis situation, the demand for co-financing of grants can be relaxed if needed for the action to be carried out.

In 2012/13, 38 countries were on the crisis declaration list. During 2012, EU Delegations for the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries on the list signed 1 348 contracts, of which 213 (about 16 %) used some form of flexible procedures. Contracts using flexible procedures accounted for around 22 % of the total value of contracts signed in 2012.

To find out more and read the key issues and case study, Download this sixth note PDF (311,6 KB)

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