2.2. Management modes
Procurement or grant award procedures for projects financed under EU external aid programmes vary according to the different arrangements for managing the project (referred to as 'management modes' or 'implementation methods'):
Direct centralised management. The European Commission is the Contracting Authority and takes decisions for the beneficiary country so, in such cases, references in this Guide to the 'Contracting Authority' in fact refer to the European Commission, acting on behalf of and for the account of the beneficiary country.
Indirect centralised management. The European Commission delegates certain budget implementation tasks to a national body, which thus becomes the Contracting Authority. This national body is usually a development agency (or equivalent) of an EU Member State. In most cases, the national body's rules and procedures are used, so this Guide does not apply, but if the delegated entity awards grants financed by the EU General Budget, the Guide does apply, with the exception of the obligation to publish calls for proposals on the Europeaid website.
- Ex-ante decentralised management. Decisions on the procurement and award of contracts are taken by the beneficiary country, which acts as the Contracting Authority, following the prior approval of the European Commission.
- Ex-post decentralised management: decisions provided for in the Financing Agreement are taken by the beneficiary country, which acts as the Contracting Authority without prior approval by the European Commission (apart from exceptions to the standard procedures given in this Guide).
The different ex-ante and ex-post approval procedures are explained at various points throughout the Guide.
The beneficiary country may or may not use its own procedures depending on the degree of decentralisation (partial or substantial). As a rule, the beneficiary country uses the contractual procedures set out in the Guide and the financial procedures (i.e. payments) set out in the Practical Guide to procedures for Programme Estimates.
Joint management: Certain implementation tasks are delegated by the European Commission to an international organisation such as the United Nations and the World Bank, which thus becomes Contracting Authority. In most cases, the rules and procedures of the international organisation are used, so this Guide does not apply.
Shared management. The European Commission delegates implementation tasks to Member States in accordance with Article 56 of the Financial Regulation. This is done, for example, for joint operational programmes on cross-border cooperation implemented by a joint managing authority under the Regulation establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument4. In such cases, procurement is governed by the Rules of application for the cross-border cooperation. Similarly, the regulations on the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA)5 allow this option. This management mode does not apply to other instruments used by the EU.
The choice of management mode is an essential element of the financing decision and it is reflected in the corresponding documents (e.g. the 'action fiche' for the relevant financing decision or (annual) action programme).
Important points with regard to decentralised management
In most cases, this Guide will apply in cases of (i) centralised and (ii) decentralised management. Note, however, that the European Commission may, in some specific cases, authorise beneficiary countries to use other procedures subject to a prior positive assessment of such procedures.
The European Commission's involvement in decentralised contracts is to authorise the financing of the contracts and check, notably with the help of established checklists, that the procedures, the implementation of the contracts and the expenditure are correctly carried out. If the procedures established in this Guide (or whatever procedure the European Commission decides must be used) are not followed, the expenditure incurred on the operations concerned is ineligible for EU financing. The European Commission's intervention is limited to checking whether the conditions for EU financing have been met.
In no case will the intervention aim at compromising the principle according to which decentralised contracts are national contracts drafted and concluded only by the decentralised Contracting Authority. Tenderers, candidates and applicants for these contracts cannot be considered beneficiaries of acts carried out by the European Commission to implement and conclude the contracts and their only legal tie is with the decentralised Contracting Authority. A Contracting Authority's decision may not be replaced by a decision taken by the EU. The Contracting Authority assumes full responsibility for its actions and will be accountable for those actions in any subsequent audit or other investigation.
The box below summarises the control procedures that the European Commission must follow for each management mode.
DIRECT CENTRALISED MANAGEMENT
The contracts are concluded directly by the European Commission, acting for the beneficiary country. It draws up shortlists (restricted procedures) and is responsible for issuing calls for tenders and calls for proposals, publishing them, receiving applications, tenders and proposals, chairing Evaluation Committees, deciding on the results of the procedures, managing complaints and signing the contracts.
DECENTRALISED MANAGEMENT WITH EX-ANTE CONTROLS
The contracts are concluded by the Contracting Authority designated in a financing agreement, i.e. the government or an entity of the beneficiary country with legal personality with which the European Commission concludes the financing agreement.
Before the procedure is launched, the Contracting Authority must submit the documents (tender dossier or call for proposal file) to the European Commission for approval. The European Commission verifies that they have been drafted in accordance with the procedures and templates laid down in this Guide (or whatever procedure the European Commission decides must be used). The Contracting Authority is then responsible for drawing up shortlists (restricted procedures), issuing the calls for tenders and calls for proposals, receiving applications, tenders and proposals, chairing evaluation committees and deciding on the results of the procedure. Before signing contracts, the Contracting Authority submits the result of the evaluations for approval to the European Commission, that verifies conformity with the applicable procedures. It also sends the contracts to the European Commission for endorsement before signing them6.
The European Commission must always be invited when applications and tenders are opened and evaluated and a European Commission representative should, as a rule, attend as an observer in all or part of the evaluation committee meetings. The European Commission pays a particular attention to potential conflicts of interests
The Contracting Authority must submit all relevant notices as stipulated in the Guidelines for publication (A11e) to the European Commission for publication, with the exception of the cases referred to in the Practical Guide for Programme Estimates.
Under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), a phased waiver of different types of ex-ante control may apply.
DECENTRALISED MANAGEMENT WITH EX-POST CONTROLS
Contracts are concluded directly by the Contracting Authority designated in a financing agreement, i.e. the government or an entity of the beneficiary country with the same legal personality with which the European Commission concludes the financing agreement. The Contracting Authority draws up shortlists (restricted procedures) and is responsible for issuing invitations to tender, receiving tenders, chairing the Tender Evaluation Committees, deciding on the results of the procedures and signing the contracts without the prior approval of the European Commission. The Contracting Authority must submit contract notices and award notices to the European Commission for publication.
OTHER MANAGEMENT MODES
Under other management modes, the delegated entity (e.g. the national agency or international organisation) concludes contracts with third parties. The procedures of the delegated entity are normally used. The European Commission may control the procedure ex post, regardless of whether the European Commission has carried out a prior 'pillar review' of the delegated entity.