The award of contracts in the implementation of humanitarian aid must comply with humanitarian aid principles (e.g. humanity, neutrality independence and impartiality) while also taking into consideration the context within which these humanitarian actions are implemented. The European Commission therefore, recognising the specific nature of humanitarian aid procurement, has in place rules imposing supplementary obligations and safeguards in certain cases while allowing for more flexible procedures when justified in other cases.
Since it was necessary to provide guidance on the applicability of ECHO's Rules & Procedures for Procurement to different situations, contractual values and Partners subject to different control mechanisms , as well as to further explain newer concepts such as Humanitarian Procurement Centres, ECHO's Rules & Procedures for Procurement are complemented by the Humanitarian Aid Guidelines for Procurement. These Procurement Guidelines facilitate compliance with the legal requirements in EU legislation and also hope to serve as a reference for the development of common terminology and standards among humanitarian organisation in receipt of EU Funds and to contribute to spreading good practices in the award of procurement contracts.
A brochure on humanitarian aid procurement prepared by the Commission offers a brief presentation of ECHO's Rules & Procedures for Procurement and an outline of the related guidance which may be found in ECHO's Humanitarian Aid guidelines for Procurement.
Humanitarian Procurement Centres ("HPC") are not-for-profit organisations specialised in the technical and commercial management of supplies and services necessary for the implementation of humanitarian actions. They can provide technical assistance in procurement or supply pre-established stocks, purchasing or logistics capacity.
In respect to their legal personality, HPCs can be:
Regardless of the form of their legal establishment HPCs must be non profit organisations maintaining high standards of integrity and transparency etc and must be available to supply their goods and services to all DG ECHO's Partner humanitarian organisations
("ECHO's Partners ") on the basis of equal treatment regarding, for example, price, performance and quality.
The Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection ("DG ECHO") assesses those entities wishing to be recognised as HPCs in accordance with the set rules and procedures (see below) with the aim of ensuring that humanitarian supplies and services purchased using EU funds are of sufficient quality and procured according to certain principles and ethical standards.
ECHO's Partners have a number of advantages when procuring goods and services through HPCs. Procurement procedures are simplified, as ECHO's Partners can decide to use a single quote procedure to award the contract to an HPC. They may pass orders to the HPC without recourse to competitive tendering or publication irrespective of the amount of the contract.
DG ECHO policy aims, as part of a wider objective of supporting safer and more efficient procurement, to develop further the concept of HPCs and to facilitate humanitarian organisations' recourse to their services.
Having regard to the type of services that they usually provide, HPCs can be:
The online HPC Register provides a list of the organisations which currently benefit from the recognition by DG ECHO as HPCs as well as an indication of their main areas of activity and the countries to which they supply goods or services This Register does not entail any contractual relationship between DG ECHO and the HPC.
Depending on their areas of specialisation, the HPCs recognised by DG ECHO supply goods or services in one or more of the following areas Pharmaceutical products & medical supplies; Medical devices & equipment; Prosthetic Technology; Veterinary; Food; Livelihood support; Water & Sanitation; Shelter & Non-Food items; Engineering, Radio and Telecommunications; Transport; Administration and Services.
Organisations interested in becoming HPCs have to fill in the HPC questionnaire and submit it.
DG ECHO assesses those entities wishing to be recognised as HPCs in accordance with the procedure established in the Rules and Procedures for Procurement in Annex IV to the Framework Partnership Agreement ("ECHO's Rules & Procedures for Procurement ") and in the Humanitarian Aid Procurement Guidelines (Draft version available). DG ECHO will examine the responses and documents submitted and will assess whether they comply with the above-mentioned procedures and guidelines in particular with the mandatory procurement principles (Chapter 2) and special rules (Chapter 4) of ECHO's Rules & Procedures for Procurement . In addition, DG ECHO assesses the technical capacity (internal control system, organisational procedures and financial solidity) and non-profit character of the candidate organisation.
If the outcome of the assessment is positive, DG ECHO's recognition will become effective upon signature of the HPC Charter by the representative of the candidate organisation.
The HPC Charter is the expression of the signatory organisation's commitment to a minimum set of common principles and good practices and the acceptance of a number of obligations vis-à-vis DG ECHO and its Partners. The signatories of the Charter must be willing and able to provide their services to all ECHO Partners.
Once an HPC is recognised it will be subject to periodic checks and on-site examination aimed at providing assurance to DG ECHO that the HPC's internal practices are performed in accordance with ECHO's Rules & Procedures for Procurement and the HPC Charter . Failure to respect these rules and commitments may be sufficient ground for the suspension or termination of DG ECHO's recognition.
There is no contractual relation between DG ECHO and the HPCs it recognises so DG ECHO will not accept any liability for failures to respect contractual obligations by HPCs. Likewise DG ECHO recognition of a given organisation as an HPC does not entail any certification of quality nor can it be presented as a system of preferred vendors. When dealing with HPCs, ECHO's Partners remain responsible for ensuring that the individual contracts they conclude with HPCs observe certain basic principles, such the principles of economy, due diligence and transparency.
If the organisation does not meet the minimum criteria or does not provide sufficient information, the applicant will be rejected and informed in writing of the identified problems and the available complaint mechanisms. Applicants will be offered the possibility of requesting a review of this decision by a reasoned letter and/or by providing the missing information within 30 calendar days of receipt of the rejection letter. Unsuccessful candidates will be authorised to re-apply one year after the date of rejection.
The current HPC Fact Sheet of DG ECHO takes on board novelties such as the new HPC-procedure of 2009 and some practical enhancements identified in the "FPA, one year later" exercise.
Organisations wishing to obtain further details are invited to contact us by post or e-mail, at the following address:
DG ECHO, Unit C.3
AN 88 2/55
e-mail : ECHO-FINANCE-LEGAL-AFFAIRS@ec.europa.eu