9 January 2013

CoR seeks significant changes to Procurement Directive draft

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) has roundly criticised the revised Procurement Directive draft, calling it “difficult to understand and extraordinarily detailed” and opining that new additions will add to the administrative burden on contracting authorities. The CoR further accused the directive of contravening “Member States' right to organise their own administration” and being “in breach of the subsidiarity principle”, arguing that the directive exceeds necessary provisions to achieve EU objectives.

Among its chief criticisms, the CoR stated that the proposed regulatory framework for public procurement does not place enough emphasis on achieving value for money in transactions. Whilst the CoR welcomes the fact that the proposed directive places greater weight on the possibility to consider environmental and social requirements, the body states that "it seems likely that the rules will not be particularly easy to apply", with specifc reference to life-cycle costing (LCC). In particular the CoR criticises that the currently proposed changes are too rigid and may not be applicable to all product groups. The CoR also argues that directive rules should be made significantly simpler, citing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement as an effective set of rules that are easily intelligible.

As the draft stands, the rules are said to “entail an unacceptable administrative burden for contracting authorities, particularly for small authorities at local and regional level”. The CoR stated, “One way of making the regulatory framework more manageable would have been to have fewer, simpler rules and complement them, if appropriate, with guidelines based on ECJ case law. These could be continually updated with no need to amend the directives”. It was also asserted that difficulty in interpretation could lead to a loss of legal stability in public procurement.

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