The Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Union, and the Rules of Application for it, set out the principles for implementation of the budget, including the principle of transparency. There are various rules on the appropriate publication of information (particularly ex-post information) about implementation of the budget, including about contracts awarded, the relevant provisions here being Article 103 of the Financial Regulation and Articles 123 and 124 of the Rules of Application. Contracts are deemed to have been ‘awarded’, depending on their value, either when the award decision is taken or when the first contract (which may be a framework contract) is signed. Article 35 of the Financial Regulation and Article 21 of the Rules of Application provide only for the publication of information on contracts awarded over the past two years: earlier information will be available on request with due regard for Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 (see legal opinion on this website).
On 1 January 2016, with the entry in force of Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement, wide-ranging changes were made to the Financial Regulation and its Rules of Application, principally regarding public procurement.
As long as contracts awarded in 2014 and 2015 were signed before 1 January 2016 they remain covered by Directive 2004/18/EC.
However, in the absence of transitional measures, some new provisions concerning the ex post publishing of contract information will apply concerning contracts awarded in 2015.
Contracts covered by Directive 2004/18/EC
In the case of contracts awarded in 2014 and 2015 in accordance with Article 123 of the Rules of Application, the provisions on ex-post advertising of contracts covered by Directive 2004/18/EC stipulate that an award notice must be sent to the Publications Office of the European Union no later than 48 calendar days after the conclusion of the procedure, i.e. the signing of the contract or framework contract.
Award notices are also sent to the Publications Office in respect of contracts or framework contracts the value of which is equal to or higher than the thresholds laid down in Article 170 of the Rules of Application and which are awarded following a negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice. The time limit for sending the notice must be long enough to ensure that publication takes place before the contract or framework contract is signed, in accordance with the terms and procedures laid down in Article 171(1).
On 31 December 2015 the thresholds referred to in Article 170 on the Rules of Application were as follows:
Contracts not covered by Directive 2004/18/EC
Article 103 of the Financial Regulation and Article 124 of the Rules of Application state, with regard to ex post advertising of contracts not covered by Directive 2004/18/EC and of contracts referred to in Annex II B thereto, that contracts ‘... shall be advertised by appropriate means...’. Such advertising includes, inter alia, ‘the annual publication of a list of contractors, specifying the subject and the value of the contract awarded, for contracts with a value greater than EUR 15 000...’. Article 124(4) of the Rules of Application further states that: 'Information relating to contracts with a value greater than the amount referred to in Article 137(2) shall be published on the internet site of the institution no later than 30 June of the following financial year.' The value given in Article 137(2) is EUR 15 000.
Specific contracts based on framework contracts
Information relating to the value of and contractors for specific contracts based on a framework contract during a given financial year must be published on the contracting authority’s website no later than 30 June of the following year. That provision applies only to procurement procedures launched after 1 May 2007.
The changes made to the Financial Regulation and Rules of Application include an amendment to Article 124 of the Rules of Application making it mandatory to disclose this information when the aggregate value per framework contract exceeds EUR 15 000, even if it remains below the thresholds laid down in the Directive. As of 2016, therefore, mandatory publishing will apply to specific contracts and specific order forms based on framework contracts signed in 2015 of an aggregate value exceeding EUR 15 000.
The publication arrangements are therefore as follows:
Publication on Parliament’s website, no later than 30 June of the following year, of