More on the EU proposed procurement regulation changes – part 1

Just before Christmas, the EU published the new draft procurement directives, the next stage in the process that ultimately leads to changing national laws and how public procurement works. We touched on it here and said we’d come back after some further analysis. Well, here we are...

The whole document runs to 246 pages, and on reading - well, most of it (available here  EU procurement regs), it strikes us that this is more important than we might have expected. In fact, this looks like the most significant set of changes for many years. We suspect no single country will have got everything they wanted (probably rightly) – and it’s interesting that while the UK Government will be broadly happy, there are a few aspects that may not please them too much.

There are also limited changes in favour of a greater emphasis on the “policy through procurement” issues – using public procurement spend to drive social, economic, environmental benefits etc. That may disappoint some.

So for the next three days we’ll go through some of the issues – in each case we’ll give some verbatim text from the Draft and then our comments on the issue.

ISSUE – Simplification of Part A and Part B services and social, health services

“The traditional distinction between so-called prioritary and non-prioritary services (‘A’ and ‘B’ services) will be abolished….

Social services: …. social, health and education services have specific characteristics which make them inappropriate for the application of the regular procedures for the award of public service contracts. These services are typically provided within a specific context that varies widely between Member States due to different administrative, organisational and cultural circumstances. The services have, by their very nature, only a very limited crossborder dimension. Member States should therefore have large discretion to organise the choice of service providers. The proposal takes account of this by providing a specific regime for public contracts for these services, with a higher threshold of EUR 500000 and imposing only the respect of basic principles of transparency and equal treatment”.

Comment  - getting rid of part A and B distinction makes absolute sense. Never really understood that. And the higher threshold for health services is probably reasonable, as there isn’t a lot of cross-border interest. Procurement people will have to point out to colleagues however that this doesn’t mean they can just award a contract to anyone they feel like – the basic principles of competition, openness etc still apply!

ISSUE – Laying out the procurement options

“Toolbox approach: Member State systems will provide two basic forms of procedure, open and restricted procedure. They may, in addition, foresee, subject to certain conditions, the competitive procedure with negotiation, the competitive dialogue and/or the innovation partnership, a new form of procedure for innovative procurement (see below). Contracting authorities will furthermore have at their disposal a set of six specific procurement techniques and tools intended for aggregated and electronic procurement: framework agreements, dynamic purchasing systems, electronic auctions, electronic catalogues, central purchasing bodies and joint procurement. Compared to the existing Directive, these tools have been improved and clarified with a view to facilitating e-procurement”.

Comment – not a huge  change perhaps, but clarification of what is available, some greater flexibility in terms of suing technology, and there is more to follow on eProcurement. ...

ISSUE – Hurray for e-Procurement!

"Electronic means of communication are particularly well suited to support centralised purchasing practices and tools because of the possibility they offer to re-use and automatically process data and to minimise information and transaction costs. The use of such electronic means of communication should therefore, as a first step, be rendered compulsory for central purchasing bodies, while also facilitating converging practices across the Union. This should be followed by a general obligation to use electronic means of communication in all procurement procedures after a transition period of two years".

Comment – Good stuff, promoting the use of e-Procurement which will be effectively mandatory before too long. If you're not already a user, you should start making serious plans now. Drop us an email if you need some advice on which providers to talk to..

More later this week!

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