MEPs seek more clarity in Tarabella report
By Sophie Mosca | Friday 01 June 2012
Greater clarity is needed on the criteria and concepts presented by rapporteur Marc Tarabella (S&D, Belgium) and there should be fewer constraints in certain procedures, which may otherwise be counterproductive. The report on the modernisation of public procurement needs to be amended along these lines, concluded the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) during an initial airing of views, on 30 May. Committee members praised the rapporteur for his work.
Tarabella presented the content of his text (see
Europolitics 4424 and 4427), which strengthens societal and especially social criteria at every stage of the procedure for the award of public contracts contained in the Commission’s draft directive of 21 December 2011 (4328 and 4333).
The rapporteur chose to develop the concept of a ‘socially sustainable production process’ for public procurement procedures related to the purpose of the contract as a guarantee of respect for workers’ health and safety and social standards. This should be achieved by giving contracting authorities the opportunity to set criteria for the organisation, qualification and experience of those assigned to perform the contract in question, and for safety and environmental performance.
Edvard Kozusnik (ECR, Czech Republic) vehemently denounced this approach and presented an apocalyptic vision of its consequences, claiming that it would destroy the EU’s competitiveness. Taking only a slightly more subtle stance, Jürgen Creutzmann (ALDE, Germany) stated that attaching greater importance to social criteria would lead to extra red tape that goes against the revision’s goals of simplification and modernisation. He particularly objected to the report’s proposal for limiting subcontracting to three subsequent levels and establishing the liability of the entire subcontracting chain. The rapporteur’s proposal for deletion of the criterion of the lowest cost also sparked objections by many MEPs.
Others, such as Frank Engels (EPP, Luxembourg), called for clarification of the legal grounds for the conditions of compliance with social criteria, among them collective agreements, introduced by the rapporteur. Heide Rühle (Greens-EFA, Germany) called for clarifications of the standards certified by the third countries mentioned in the report and the re-inclusion of international standards. With other MEPs, she also disputed the Commission’s deletion, supported by Tarabella, of the distinction between priority and non-priority services, arguing that legal services should have an exemption.
Other MEPs, like Philippe Juvin (EPP, France), objected to the overly binding nature of procedures for the division of public contracts into lots to encourage SME participation, explaining that this could deprive contracting authorities of important levers.
The Socialists supported the report, pointing out that social laws are part of EU law and that it is not incongruous to require compliance by parties submitting tenders for European public contracts.
Given the scope and complexity of this issue, the committee decided to push back the deadline for tabling amendments from 14 June to 5 July.
The revision of public procurement directives maintains the two-text architecture, one for general contracts and the other for network contracts. It also includes a new proposal on public works and services concessions contracts. The revision also introduces a compulsory division of contracts over 500,000 euro into lots to encourage the participation of SMEs and promotes societal objectives: quality jobs, integration of vulnerable persons, etc. The revision takes account of product life cycle costing for the award of contracts.