The three new EU directives on public procurement, utilities procurement and concession contracts came into force at EU level on 17 April 2014. The published versions of the new directives are available here.
The UK now has until 17 April 2016 to implement the directives into our own Regulations. But this is a long stop date and the Cabinet Office’s stated intention is to work to an expedited timetable for implementation, so we could see the new UK Regulations coming into force by the end of this year. We are expecting to see the first draft of the new Regulations shortly (we understand these will replace (rather than amend) The Public Contracts Regulations 2006 and The Utilities Regulations 2006 and there will brand new legislation on concessions).
The wide-ranging reforms in the new legislation include:
- A completely new regime for the procurement of concession contracts
- The abolition of the concept of Part B services and its replacement with a new “light touch” regime for health, social and some other services
- The introduction of a new procurement procedure (innovation partnerships), as well as changes to some of the existing procedures and more flexibility in their use
- Shorter timescales with the emphasis on e-procurement
- Simplification and greater flexibility around the selection of suppliers
- Measures to increase the accessibility of public contracts, particularly to SMEs
The wide-ranging reforms mean both buyers and suppliers alike need to quickly adapt their policies, procedures and documentation to align with the new legislation, its concepts and provisions.