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EU public procurement directives

On 26 February 2014, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament adopted two directives aimed at simplifying public procurement procedures and making them more flexible. EU countries had until April 2016 to transpose the new rules into national law (except with regard to e-procurement where the deadline was October 2018).

The old directives (directive 2004/18/EC - the ‘classical public sector directive’ - and directive 2004/17/EC - the ‘utilities directive’) were replaced with the following:

  • Directive 2014/25/EU on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors.

The new rules seek to ensure greater inclusion of common societal goals in the procurement process. These goals include environmental protection, social responsibility, innovation, combating climate change, employment, public health and other social and environmental considerations.

In terms of GPP, the following sections of the directives are worth drawing attention to:

  • Defining the requirements of a contract: Defining technical specifications is guided through Article 42 and Annex VII of Directive 2014/24/EU; and Article 60 and Annex VIII of Directive 2014/25/EU.
  • Use of labels: Conditions for using labels are laid out in Article 43 of Directive 2014/24/EU; and Article 61 of Directive 2014/25/EU.
  • Lowest price award and life-cycle costing (LCC): Awarding public contracts on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender is provided as part of Article 67 of Directive 2014/24/EU; and Article 82 of Directive 2014/25/EU.
  • Innovation partnerships: Where a contracting authority wishes to purchase goods or services, which are not currently available on the market, it may establish an innovation partnership with one or more partners. This allows for the research and development (R&D), piloting and subsequent purchase of a new product, service or work, by establishing a structured partnership. The procedure for establishing an innovation partnership is set out in Article 31 of Directive 2014/24/EU.
  • Consulting the market: The procurement directives specifically allow for preliminary market consultation with suppliers in order to get advice, which may be used in the preparation of the procedure. Article 40 of Directive 2014/24/EU.

For further information on public procurement legislation and other relevant documents, please consult the website of DG Growth.