Since the end of February, debates have been ongoing in both the European Parliament and in the Council on the proposed revision to the EU public procurement regime. As part of an overall review of the EU public procurement rules, the Commission issued three legislative proposals on 20 December 2011: one to amend the current rules on public contracts, one to amend the current rules on utilities contracts (water, energy, transport and postal services) and one to introduce a new Directive on concessions contracts.
The three proposed Directives have now passed to the European Parliament and to the national governments in the Council, where they have become part of a lively debate on what form and shape the reform shall take. On 20 and 21 February, Member States in the Competitiveness Council held their first public debate on the Commission's proposed changes. On 29 February, the European Parliament held its first exchange of views within its Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee ("IMCO"). The tone of the debate in these meetings as well as among the various stakeholders thereafter indicates that amendments to the Commission proposals are likely.
The proposed revisions to the Public Contracts and Utilities Directives are mainly directed at modernising and simplifying the rules. These proposals have met with broad support, although certain concerns have been raised on specific issues. However, the proposed Concessions Directive, which would bring the award of contracts for service concessions within the EU public procurement regime for the very first time, has been met with strong opposition from MEPs in the European Parliament.
The proposed Directives are still some way from becoming reality. First, they have to be approved by the European Parliament and national governments in the Council, who will continue to debate their contents and may well introduce amendments. The Commission anticipates that the proposal will be adopted towards the end of 2012 or the start of 2013. Second, Member States will have two years in which to implement the provisions of the Directive into their national law.
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