Public consultation on the setting up of the voluntary ex ante assessment mechanism for large infrastructure projects Published on: 20/01/2017, Last update: 18/04/2017
In the Commission Communication ‘Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and businesses’ of October 2015, the Commission undertook to introduce a voluntary ex ante mechanism to assess the procurement aspects of certain large-scale infrastructure projects. The assessment mechanism is a tool to support Member States in the process of implementing big infrastructure projects, by checking and advising on whether their planned procurement procedures comply with EU law. The assessment mechanism should help reduce delays in the planning phase of big infrastructure projects and minimise the risk of infringements once the project has been launched.
This initiative is linked to the Investment Plan for Europe, and in particular the objective to improve the business environment. The 29 November 2016 Communication 'Investment Plan for Europe: evaluations give evidence to support its reinforcement' foresees the preparation in the course of 2017 of a 'one-stop-shop' for all Member States, bringing together all responsible Commission services – including its Representation offices in the Member States – in a single investment policy team”. This one-stop-shop concerns all relevant EU rules and procedures, e.g. EU funding, public accounting rules, environmental permits and public procurement.
In this context, the Commission intends to introduce an ex ante assessment mechanism for the public procurement procedures of large infrastructure projects. This would consist of three elements:
1) a helpdesk for specific questions on public procurement for these large-scale infrastructure projects. The helpdesk should help Member States clarify public procurement issues upfront and in general before the project is mature enough to be notifiable under the mechanism described in 2) below. It can play a particularly important role in helping to find mutually-acceptable solutions for projects that span a national border. The helpdesk could also provide advice throughout the implementation of the project.
2) a notification mechanism. This is intended to reassure those responsible for the project that their procurement strategy and planned procedures are in line with EU rules. Once the project is mature enough, but before irreversible decisions are taken, the Member State will be able to notify the project to the Commission using a specific procedure.
3) a mechanism for exchanging information on projects between Member States and/or project promoters so that the promoters, the Commission and the Member States’ authorities can learn from each other’s experience. The aim will be to build up reference classes of similar projects and to share experiences. The information exchange mechanism will also serve as a platform for comparing different aspects related to the projects such as:
- the type of procurement procedure;
- the costs of similar projects;
- the stages in developing the project;
- the problems in implementing the project.
Member States will be encouraged to submit information on large-scale infrastructure projects to the information exchange mechanism.
The ex ante assessment mechanism would apply to projects that operate in transport, energy and ICT with an estimated value exceeding €700 million. A project, in the context of this action, should be understood as the totality of works (and services) procurement procedures, needed to achieve a single well-defined overarching goal related to the provision of infrastructure. For example, this could be the development of a piece of linear transport infrastructure such as several adjacent sections of a highway aiming at connecting two nodes, or the totality of works related to a single energy construction such as a power plant and its connections to the national grid.
This initiative to introduce an ex ante assessment mechanism is especially opportune as EU public procurement rules have been substantially reformed with the entry into force of new directives in the field of public procurement (classical procurement, utilities and concessions). Member States had to enact the directives into national law by April 2016. Introducing a mechanism to help assess large-scale infrastructure projects will be a flanking measure to develop good practices in the implementation of the new directives.
The consultation will cover all three elements of the proposed preliminary assessment mechanism. Its goal is to clarify the most complex aspects of the mechanism.
The objectives of this public consultation are to:
- check stakeholders’ specific needs regarding the three components of the assessment mechanism;
- check what form of notification mechanism the stakeholders would find most useful;
- identify the main problematic areas on which the notification should focus and gather factual information on them;
- identify the best timing for the notification and the interplay with other notifications or submissions of information to the Commission;
- verify the main elements to be included in the exchange of information mechanism and the best channels for communication;
- identify the specific issues requiring attention for cross-border projects and concessions;
- assess the inter-linkages between the helpdesk, the notification system, and the exchange of information mechanism, and other similar tools used by the Commission;
- check whether stakeholders believe that the mechanism on procurement could be extended to other procedures which apply to large-scale infrastructure projects in the context of a broader 'one-stop-shop'.
This consultation is targeted at:
- National ministries such as ministries of economy, transport, energy, telecommunications, infrastructure and construction, and possibly also regional authorities;
- National procurement authorities;
- Remedies bodies;
- Courts of auditors;
- Promoters of big infrastructure projects;
- Contracting authorities;
- Business organisations;
- Law firms and other consultancies;
Period of consultation
20.01.2017 – 14.04.2017
How to submit your contribution?
Please note that in order to ensure a fair and transparent consultation process, only responses received through the online survey (EUSurvey) will be taken into account and included in the report summarising the responses.
Received contributions will be published on the Internet. It is important to read the specific privacy statement attached to this consultation for information on how your personal data and contribution will be dealt with.
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- Commission Communication, Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business.
- Commission Staff Working Document, A Single market Strategy for Europe — Analysis and Evidence.
- Roadmap on an ex ante assessment mechanism of the procurement aspects of certain large-scale infrastructure projects.