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Adoption of three new European directives on public procurement: measures to promote SMEs, support innovation and promote social and environmental responsibility (February 11, 2014)

Pierre Moscovici, Minister of the Economy and Finance, and Thierry Repentin, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, welcome the final adoption today by the member states of the European Union of three new European directives on public procurement and concessions. These directives, which should be implemented within 2 years, will help to simplify public procurement law, allow public procurement to be used as a tool to promote innovation, and encourage buyers to take greater account of social and environmental goals.

These new rules will help facilitate SMEs’ access to public contracts by reducing processing times, drastically simplifying applications for contracts and by limiting the number of supporting documents required. The new rules will also make it possible to introduce a limit on buyers’ requirements in terms of the minimum financial capacity of applicants (by limiting the turnover required to twice the estimated contract value), thus allowing more small companies to apply for contracts. The government plans to swiftly incorporate these measures into domestic law, in keeping with the “simplification shock” [1] decided upon by President Hollande.

These directives also establish the Innovation Partnerships procedure, which will enable a buyer to join forces with a company on a research and development project and subsequently buy directly from the company. The government intends to swiftly incorporate this arrangement - which will be highly beneficial in terms of research support - into domestic law.

In addition, these directives will help ensure that better account is taken of social and environmental responsibility goals in the area of public procurement; these goals may become real contract award criteria. The “best offer” criterion is thus reinforced. More public contracts can be set aside for suppliers operating in the social and solidarity-based economy sector with at least 30% of their workforce made up of “disadvantaged or disabled” people.

Lastly, concessions were previously not covered by any special European legislation, in contrast to France where the Sapin law provides an effective framework for concessions. The new directive on concessions addresses this and is largely modeled on the principles of French law. The text adopted today establishes a clear and transparent EU-wide legal framework that will create legal certainty and stimulate investment and therefore employment in infrastructure and services. For French companies, it will facilitate their access to certain European markets in a completely transparent manner.

[1a series of measures to simplify administrative procedures, cut red tape for businesses and boost growth.



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