EP preparing resolution for simplified regulation
By Sophie Mosca | Tuesday 12 July 2011
The 2004 directives on public procurement must be simplified and clarified and must include sustainability as a criterion. Such is, essentially, the message of the resolution that the European Parliament is preparing in response to the Commission’s green paper on the modernisation of public procurement policy. The Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) held the first debate, on 11 July, on a draft report by Heide Rühle (Greens-EFA, Germany) revealing a wide consensus on the current text.
The complexity of regulation on public procurement leads to expensive administrative procedures and legal uncertainty discourages actors from developing innovative solutions. The rapporteur therefore advises revising directives by refocusing on a simplified corpus. This means that the directives must move away from the current excessive amount of detail and “lean more on general principles of transparency, equality in treatment and non-discrimination” and favour a better dialogue between contracting authorities and the tenderers.
It would be sensible to turn into ordinary procedures the procedures negotiated with a pre-publication of a contract notice. It would also be a good idea to develop some definitions in the light of the EU Court of Justice case law, namely the definition of public law bodies. Another important clarification needs to be formalised: the fact that public-public cooperation does not fall under public procurement rules, under certain conditions.
The draft report suggests simply eradicating the criterion of attributing public contracts to the lowest tenderer, choosing instead the most advantageous proposals economically speaking, taking into account the global sustainability of the offer, such as the total cost of the products’ life cycle, of services or associated work. This would allow inclusion in the technical specifications of requirements relative to the mode of production, or even allow giving preference to local providers because of the reduced impact of the carbon footprint. The Commission is called on to “examine to what extent market regulations allow for it”. Shadow rapporteur Franck Engel (EPP, Luxembourg) would prefer to maintain the criterion of the cheapest offer, but to add that it is not decisive.
Regarding safeguards in terms of corruption, Rühle feels that the current regulation is pertinent and that it is just a matter of “making it more elaborate to avoid dumping and unfair competition”. She is expecting more information from the Commission to flesh out her report on the measures destined to promote better access of SMEs to public contracts. Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D, France) - another shadow rapporteur – suggested that the confidentiality of SMEs’ offers be guaranteed since preserving innovation is essential for SMEs.
The IMCO committee vote is scheduled for early September.