Always looking to boost the European economy and create jobs, an overhaul of EU public procurement rules has been on the cards for the European Commission for some time. In December 2011 proposals for revised public procurement directives and  a new concessions directive were announced.

In June of this year the Irish Council Presidency announced agreement with European Parliament representatives on the new legislative package. This was endorsed by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) on 17 July.

Next in the process are a European Parliament debate and vote (due to take place in the Autumn), and since amendments are still possible, the final text is not yet available.

So what will the changes mean?

The changes aim for:

  • A simpler, more flexible procedural regime (lower administrative burden and more electronic procurement)
  • Greater focus on common social goals such as employment, public health and social responsibility (although hopefully not
  • weakening the core competitive drivers inherent in the procurement regime)
  • Better SME access to the markets, partly through authorities dividing contracts into smaller lots and standardised selection
  • documents
  • Better conflict of interests procedures
  • Public procurement activity reporting obligations, to aid compliance monitoring

EU Member States will have two years to transpose the new rules into national law.

According to a Cabinet Office Procurement Policy Note from 25 July, there are ambitious plans to transpose the rules early into UK law, in order that UK authorities can take advantage of the benefits of the new rules as soon as possible.

Full text of the Cabinet Office Procurement Policy Note can be found here