2.4.7. Competitive dialogue
In the case of particularly complex contracts, where the contracting authority considers that neither direct use of the open procedure nor the arrangements governing the restricted procedure will result in the best value for money, it may use the competitive dialogue referred to in the EU Financial Regulation. A contract is considered to be 'particularly complex' if the contracting authority is objectively unable either to specify the technical means of satisfying its needs or objectives or to specify the legal or financial makeup of the project. No specific threshold applies. This procedure is, however, exceptional and must be used with caution.
Contracting authorities must publish a contract notice setting out or attaching their needs and requirements. They must open a dialogue with the candidates satisfying the selection criteria in the contract notice. The dialogue may cover all aspects of the tender; however, it is conducted separately with each candidate on the basis of their proposed solutions and ideas. The contracting authority must ensure equal treatment of tenderers and keep the tenders confidential. It is therefore not allowed to pick the best solutions from different tenderers (i.e. nocherry-picking is allowed).
The minimum number of candidates invited to tender is three. Before selecting the candidates, the contracting authority checks that none of the candidates or their partners is in an exclusion situation in the Early Warning System. If fewer than three candidates meet the selection criteria, the contracting authority may continue the procedure with the one or two who do meet the criteria. The contracting authority may not make up the number with other economic operators who did not take part in the procedure or candidates who do not meet the selection criteria.
During the dialogue, the contracting authority must treat all tenderers equally and ensure that the solutions proposed or other information received in the dialogue is kept confidential unless the candidate agrees to disclosure.
The contracting authority may reduce the number of solutions for dialogue by applying the award criteria at a pre-dialogue stage, if the contract notice informs candidates of this possibility. The contracting authority must prepare a report explaining the manner in which dialogue was conducted.
After informing the participants that the dialogue has been concluded, contracting authorities must ask them to submit their final tenders on the basis of the solutions presented and specified during the dialogue. The tenders must contain all the information required and necessary for the performance of the project. At the request of the contracting authority, these tenders may be clarified, specified and fine-tuned, provided this does not have the effect of changing basic aspects of the tender or of the invitation to tender, variations in which could distort competition or have a discriminatory effect. At the request of the contracting authority, the tenderer offering best value for money may be asked to clarify aspects of the tender or confirm commitments contained in the tender provided this does not have the effect of amending substantial aspects of the tender or of the call for tenders and does not risk distorting competition or causing discrimination.
The contracting authorities may specify prices or payments to the participants in the dialogue.
The contract is awarded to the technically compliant tender which is the most economically advantageous (i.e. the sole criterion is the best value for money).
The standard templates must be adapted as required.
DIRECT MANAGEMENT AND INDIRECT MANAGEMENT WITH EX-ANTE CONTROLS:
Prior approval by the European Commission must be sought to use competitive dialogue.
INDIRECT MANAGEMENT WITH EX-POST CONTROLS:
No prior European Commission approval is required.