Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

More flexibility for service contracts on health and social issues, and education

More flexibility for service contracts on health and social issues, and education
Published on: 09/03/2016
Social, health and education services play an important role in social protection, health care and education, but different cultural traditions mean that such services are organised very differently from one country to another.

To take account of the specific characteristics of these services, the new public procurement rules provide a list of ‘social and other specific services’ where a ‘light touch regime’ with a higher threshold will apply. For other services, European public procurement rules need to be applied for contracts above €209,000 (above €135,000 for contracts awarded by central government authorities).

The regime for social, health and education services (e.g. home help services, training and social security services) is based on a higher threshold of €750,000. Those of a lower value will be considered as not being attractive in principle to enterprises from other Member States and therefore will not fall within the scope of the new regime, except in specific cases (in particular if European structural funds are involved).

Member State authorities can also focus on the quality of social services in awarding the contract to the firm that best meets qualitative criteria set out in the tender for the service in question (e.g. accessibility, continuity, or needs of the various categories of user). Member States may even prohibit the cost-only criteria for the award of such contracts.

Finally, contract authorities have very limited European-level obligations: they only need to publish a tender notice in a simplified form and a notification of the award of the contract. However equal treatment of national bidders and bidders from other Member States is to be ensured.

Overview of different rules for 1. services and 2. social, health, hotel and cultural services

Contract value

above €209,000 (€135,000)

above €750,000

Procedure

Regular tender procedure subject to the full set of procedural rules

  • Simplified prior advertising of contracts Equal treatment of bidders

Services covered (selection)

All services except those identified as belonging to the light regime (an Annex to the Directive provides an exhaustive list of all light regime services)

  • Social services Health services Cultural services Educational services Certain legal services Hotel and restaurant services

This simplified regime should help to ensure the quality of these services and other important factors such as continuity, accessibility and affordability of these services to users, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

Find out more on the Public procurement reform: Slashing administrative burden, improving access for SMEs, preventing corruption and allowing for social and environmental considerations