Public procurement "concession" contracts, which enable public authorities to transfer the economic risk of projects such as building roads bridges or sports arenas to the private sector, will be subject to uniform EU-wide rules voted by the Internal Market Committee on Thursday.
"This text establishes clear, pragmatic and efficient rules at EU level and makes available additional tools to help public authorities develop and modernise public services" said Parliament's rapporteur Phillipe Juvin (EPP, FR), adding that "the attribution of a concession is not synonymous with privatisation of public services".
These concession contracts enable the authorities to transfer the economic risks of building infrastructure or supplying services to the contractors that supply them, without giving up their rights to the goods or services supplied.
More robust contracting
The committee voted to simplify the procedure for awarding such concessions, by retaining only two mandatory stages for the authorities: to publish the call for tenders at the start and the award notice at the end. This should give the authorities more flexibility to negotiate the best deal.
MEPs also said that concession procedure documents should be made available and processed electronically.
The committee voted to exclude the following services from the rules, due to their specificity: gambling activities resulting from exclusive rights, civil defence and protection, danger prevention, air transport services and media services.
However MEPs voted not to exclude the water sector from the directive.
Concession threshold and award criteria
The draft rules would apply to concession contracts worth €8 million or more.
The new draft rules require concession award criteria to be objective, but would allow public authorities to include environmental, social, gender-equality or innovation-related ones..
The minimum EU-wide requirements for awarding public procurement concessions were approved by 28 votes to 10, with 2 abstentions.
The "Concessions" directive is part of a package of 4 public procurement directives. The others are the "Classic", "Utilities" and "Third Market Access" (or "Reciprocity") directives. An update to the "Utilities" directive was also voted in the Internal Market Committee on Thursday. The "Third Market Access" directive is dealt with by the International Trade Committee.
The committee will decide later whether to start informal negotiations with the Council on the new directive so as to strive for the first reading agreement.
In the chair: Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK)