Draft of new Public Procurement Act approved in second reading by Council of Ministers

Draft of new Public Procurement Act approved in second reading by Council of Ministers

On 18 December 2015, the Council of Ministers approved in second reading a preliminary bill by which 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.

These Directives seek to make the existing award procedures simpler and more flexible and to assure broader access for SME´s. They also facilitate the use of ecological and social award criteria and introduce the innovation partnership as a new award procedure (for an overview of the most important new points, also see our newsflash of 24 January 2014).

The new European directives entered into force on 18 April 2014 and have to be transposed into Belgian law by 18 April 2016. The approval of the preliminary bill in second reading is yet another step in this implementation process.

On 24 September 2015 the Council of Ministers already approved a preliminary bill in first reading (see on this also our newsflash of 20 October 2015). In second reading the bill was adapted in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, Legislation department.

The Council of Ministers announced in a press release that, with this second reading, several measures in fighting social dumping were also being taken. For example, the number of subcontractors in the vertical chain must be limited to a maximum of two per specialty, and the required accreditation as contractor will be expanded to all subcontractors in the chain. With this step, the Council of Ministers is going much further than the European legislature. If these measures make it into the final legislative text, they will have a huge impact on the ability to use foreign subcontractors in public procurement contracts.

In January 2016, a working group (including the social partners from the construction sector) is beginning to study the impact of the implementation of the anti-social dumping measures.

For the moment, the text of the preliminary bill has not yet been made public. The bill is being presented to the King for signing and will then be submitted to the Chamber of Representatives.

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