Public procurement contracts bill submitted to the Chamber

Public procurement contracts bill submitted to the Chamber

On 4 January 2016, the government submitted a bill on public procurement contracts to the Chamber.  The “final corrected proof” was received by the Chamber on 19 January 2016.

With this bill, two European directives on public procurement contracts are being transposed into Belgian law. These are Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement in the classic sectors and Directive 2014/25/EU on public procurement in the special sectors.

The new European directives entered into force on 18 April 2014 and have to be transposed into Belgian law by 18 April 2016.

As the primary innovations the Explanatory Memorandum points to the codification of the case-law of the Court of Justice about quasi in-house contracts and public-public partnerships and the abolition of the earlier distinction between priority and non-priority services (services in Annexes II.A and II.B), with the introduction of a more flexible system of award rules for a number of social and other special services. Moreover, the conditions for using the competitive procedure with negotiation (now called ´negotiation procedure with publication´) have been made more flexible.     

A number of the objectives striven for by the European legislature are indicated by the government as priorities, including greater participation of SME´s in public procurement contracts, a reduction of the administrative burdens, attention for energy efficiency, greater observance of social and environmental clauses and attention for innovation. The rules of the directives were also transposed for contracts under the European thresholds, although in a less rigid way. 

It is also indicated that the fight against social dumping was an important point of concern when drafting the bill. Already upon approving the preliminary bill in second reading the Council of Ministers announced that it wishes to take far-reaching steps in this effort (see on this our newsflash of 14 January 2016). In the authorisation to the King to define the general implementation rules, the limitation of the number subcontractors in the vertical chain up to a maximum of two per specialty and the expansion of the accreditation as contractor to all subcontractors in the chain, are again announced as additional measures.  

For more information on this topic, you can consult Carlo Cardone (author) and Kris Lemmens (unit head).