This is possible thanks to the European Public Procurement Remedies Directives, which introduce minimum standards for review procedures, such as an obligatory standstill period of at least ten days between the award decision and the subsequent signature of the contract. This time span guarantees the rights of enterprises to ask for the review of public procurement awards and prevents contracting authorities from making a contract irreversible by signing it quickly. Furthermore, procurement authorities are obliged to explain the reasons for their decisions and why other bidders were rejected.
The European Commission has just published a report, accompanied by a detailed evaluation, on the operation of the Remedies Directives. It concludes that the Directives have contributed to improving fairness, transparency, openness and efficiency in the procurement process in EU countries, which is essential to increase trust in public administration. Furthermore, the importance of the Directives is confirmed by the fact that economic operators are using them to challenge deviations from public procurement rules: within four years (2009-2012), over 50 000 first instance decisions were taken.
The evaluation comes to the conclusion that the Remedies Directives have met their objectives in an effective and efficient way. In general qualitative terms, the benefits of the Remedies Directives outweigh the costs. They remain relevant and continue to improve public procurement. For this reason, the Commission proposes maintaining them in their current state.
The evaluation has however identified certain shortcomings in some aspects of the functioning of the Remedies Directives. To address them, the Commission intends to develop a set of strong supporting measures:
- Promote cooperation and exchange of best practice, notably by creating a network of first instance remedies bodies. This forum will facilitate the exchange of best practice and the development of actions aimed at further strengthening national remedies systems.
- Set up a Remedies Scoreboard to promote the collection of data in a structured manner and achieve more transparency on the operation of review systems. Its first edition should be published in 2018 based on indicators developed in cooperation with EU countries.
- Prepare guidance documents to ease the practical implementation of the Remedies Directives.
- Initiate enforcement actions (including infringements) when problems cannot be solved by cooperative means.