Strategy and partnership are the overarching themes of the European Commission’s recent review of public procurement across the EU, explains David Hansom, procurement partner at law firm Clyde & Co
It also recognises the need for a more receptive, needs-based procurement process where data can be collated, and where instances of non-compatibility and delays are reduced. This is based on the Ex-Ante Assessment Mechanism, a strategy proposed in October 2017.
It is aimed at large infrastructure projects – worth €250m or more – where an EU helpdesk would answer questions about the initial stage of the procurement process, Hansom says. It is proposed for larger projects worth €700m or more, and authorities would be able to request a confidential and non-binding notification as to the compatibility of a procurement plan with EU procurement legislation.
Despite being labelled an ‘ex-ante’ mechanism, the Commission envisages that feedback will be available ‘throughout the project’, points out Hansom.
It will operate alongside an information exchange database of tender fields, contracts, guidelines and rulings for use by national authorities and contracting entities, supplemented by an information exchange platform for large infrastructure projects to share their knowledge – both are in the process of being rolled out.
These proposals will be legislated in due course, says Hansom, adding that for the UK it remains to be seen what will be adopted post-Brexit and depending on the agreed level of access to EU procurement markets by the UK.