On 1 January 2014, procurement thresholds increased as part of a European Commission biennial review  to ensure that they are in keeping with the thresholds under the World Trade Organisation’s Government  Procurement Agreement.

Details of the principal new Public Contracts Regulations 2006 thresholds are listed below:

Click here to view the table.

The EU Commission stipulates here how the thresholds are to be translated into the local  currency of EU Member States, and interestingly, the new thresholds, when converted to  pounds, are slightly lower than the thresholds issued two years ago.

All EU Member States have to apply these new thresholds to their national procurement rules.  

New EU procurement directives adopted

On 15 January 2014, the European Parliament adopted a new package of procurement directives  (the “Directives”) which will replace the Public Sector Directive (2004/18/EC) and the Utilities  Directive (2004/17/EC), and introduce a new directive on the award of concessions.  

The new rules aim to modernise the EU public procurement rules and reduce the administrative  burden on public authorities.  The rules are due to enter into force in March 2014, after which  Member States will have two years to implement the Directives through national legislation.    However, the UK Cabinet Office is currently working to a much expedited timetable, and plans  to implement the new Directives as soon as feasible.

As discussed in our July 2013 Procurement Alert, the main changes that the new Directives will  bring about include:

  • constraints on using the negotiated procedure will be relaxed; 
  • there will be a much simpler process for assessing bidders’ credentials;
  • it will be possible to exclude bidders on the grounds of poor performance under previous 
  • contracts; 
  • the statutory minimum time limits by which suppliers must respond to advertised 
  • procurements and submit tender documents will be reduced;
  • purchasers can take into account the relevant skills and experience of individuals at the award stage, where relevant;
  • various improved safeguards from corruption have been inserted, including specific safeguards against conflicts of interest and illicit behaviour by candidates and bidders, such as attempts improperly to influence the purchasers’ decision-making process or collusion; and 
  • a cornerstone of the modernisation process will be the promotion of electronic procurement systems, the use of which is to become mandatory in less than five years.

The new rules are also designed to save companies a lot of initial paperwork, making the  process of bidding for public contracts quicker, less costly, and less bureaucratic, and include:

  • a greater emphasis on award criteria such as quality, environmental considerations, social  aspects, innovative characteristics, and staff experience, while still taking into account full  life-cycle costings;
  • a standard “European Single Procurement Document” form in all EU languages; 
  • an obligation on public authorities to share information on eligible bidders from national  databases – designed to make it easier for companies to bid;
  • a system based on self-declarations where only the winning bidder has to provide original  documents; and
  • an “Innovation Partnerships” procedure enabling public authorities to call for tenders to  solve a specific problem without indicating what they believe the solution to be (ie allowing  for negotiation).

Despite these changes, the rules on public procurement remedies will remain the same. For  example, the 10 day minimum standstill period between the end of evaluation and contract  exe

Although the final text of the Directives is not yet available, a useful note on the new Directives  from the European Parliament is available here, whilst a FAQ memo is available here.