12 February 2014

On 11 February, the Council of the EU adopted without amendment a package of three new directives which will overhaul the operation of public procurement across the EU. The texts were adopted separately by the European Parliament on 15 January (see our January procurement update).

The Council's vote brings to a close a legislative process which began in December 2011 with the presentation of the Commission's initial proposals to MEPs and Member States. The proposals built upon the Green Paper on the Modernisation of EU Public Procurement Policy (January 2011) which was principally aimed at achieving simplification of the existing rules, 'flexibilising' award procedures and enhancing SME access to public procurement markets. In addition, the new rules will enshrine in legislation several significant rulings of the Court of Justice in recent years.

The final texts display only cosmetic changes to the drafts which were given political agreement in June 2013 following tripartite negotiations between the Commission, Parliament and EU Council. Many readers will be familiar with those 'compromise' texts which have been in the public domain for the past number of months. The final (official) form of the directives will be published shortly in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU).

Importantly, the directives will not enter into force until March (20 days following the OJEU publication date) and Member States will from then have two years to introduce national legislation giving effect to the new regime. According to the Cabinet Office, England, Wales and Northern Ireland can expect fresh legislation by early 2015. In contrast with the existing legislation (the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 and the Utilities Contract Regulations 2006), it is proposed to 'copy' the directives into domestic law. However, some UK-specific provisions can be expected, including in relation to conflicts of interests, the 'light' services regime (replacing Part B services), e-procurement and division of contracts into lots.

The author Brendan Ryan is part of Burges Salmon's Procurement team led by John Houlden.

Key contact

John Houlden

John Houlden Partner

  • Head of Public Sector
  • Head of Procurement and Subsidy Control
  • Projects

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