Hamilton Perspectives Nyhetsbrev

Proposal for new rules on Swedish public procurement

The Swedish ru­les on pub­lic procu­re­ment of contracts which ha­ve a va­lue be­low the EU th­res­holds and procu­re­ment of so­ci­al and ot­her spe­ci­fic ser­vices (non-EU procu­re­ment), are set out in Chapter 19 of each of the two main ac­ts on procu­re­ment in Sweden – the Public Procurement Act (the PPA) and the Utilities Procurement Act (the UPA). The ru­les for non-EU procu­re­ment ha­ve be­en cri­ti­ci­zed for be­ing too com­pli­ca­ted and dif­ficult to ap­p­ly. In 2018, a go­vern­ment re­port (the Report) has pro­po­sed com­pre­hen­si­ve changes and amend­ments for the pur­po­se of simp­li­fy­ing the­se ru­les. A few of the main pro­po­sals of the Report are sum­ma­ri­zed be­low.

General prin­ciples

In ac­cor­dan­ce with the Report, the per­for­man­ce of non-EU procu­re­ment will still be sub­ject to na­tio­nal le­gis­la­tion. While the Report pro­po­ses simp­li­fi­ed ru­les for non-EU procu­re­ment, fun­da­men­tal EU prin­ciples on procu­re­ment will still form the ba­sis for the pro­po­sed ru­les. A ge­ne­ral star­ting point is that all that is al­lo­wed re­gar­ding EU procu­re­ment, should al­so be al­lo­wed when con­ducting non-EU procu­re­ment. The pro­po­sed ru­les will be in­cor­po­ra­ted in­to the ex­is­ting procu­re­ment ac­ts.

More flex­ib­le ru­les for non-EU procu­re­ment

The Report pro­po­ses that non-EU procu­re­ment will be go­ver­ned by mo­re flex­ib­le ru­les than is cur­rent­ly the ca­se. Such procu­re­ment would still be sub­ject to pub­li­ca­tion, but the contracting aut­ho­ri­ti­es and en­ti­ti­es would ha­ve the free­dom to de­sign the pro­ce­du­res as they see fit, as long as EU prin­ciples are com­pli­ed with. Certain ru­les which are in­ten­ded to pro­tect the sup­pli­ers are al­so pro­po­sed (in­ter alia the right to re­fer to ca­pa­ci­ty of ot­her com­pa­ni­es and an ob­li­ga­tion for the contracting aut­ho­ri­ti­es and en­ti­ti­es to com­mu­ni­ca­te with the sup­pli­er be­fo­re any de­ci­sion to ex­clu­de the sup­pli­er). Furthermore, the Report pro­po­ses that contracting aut­ho­ri­ti­es and en­ti­ti­es should be per­mitted to en­ter in­to di­a­lo­gue with sup­pli­ers, en­tailing the pos­si­bi­li­ty to correct and cla­ri­fy ten­ders, as well as to en­ter in­to ne­go­ti­a­tions with sup­pli­ers.

New fix­ed direct award th­res­holds

The ru­les on direct awards (i.e. procu­re­ment wit­hout man­da­to­ry pub­li­ca­tion whe­re the contract can be awar­ded direct­ly to one sup­pli­er) are cur­rent­ly scat­te­red and dif­ficult to grasp, sin­ce Chapter 19 re­fer to ot­her Chapters and Sections of the PPA and the UPA. The Report pro­po­ses that all ru­les on direct awards be grou­ped in­to a new Chapter 19a of the PPA and the UPA re­specti­vely. The pro­po­sed Chapter is re­la­ti­vely bri­ef, con­tai­ning on­ly ten sec­tions. The Report pro­po­ses fix­ed direct award th­res­holds (SEK 600,000 for procu­re­ment un­der the PPA, and SEK 1,100,000 for procu­re­ment un­der the UPA). The fix­ed th­res­holds are not in­ten­ded to be ap­pli­cab­le to direct awards of contracts for so­ci­al and ot­her spe­ci­al ser­vices (see furt­her be­low re­gar­ding such contracts).

A new na­tio­nal prin­cip­le for direct awards

The Report pro­po­ses that fun­da­men­tal EU prin­ciples shall not be ap­pli­cab­le to direct awards. Instead, a new “na­tio­nal prin­cip­le” is in­tro­du­ced which should ap­p­ly to direct awards. The pro­po­sed na­tio­nal prin­cip­le me­ans that in a direct award pro­ce­du­re, the com­pe­ti­tion avai­lab­le wit­hin the mar­ket should be used, the costs of the procu­re­ment pro­ce­du­re should be pro­por­tio­nal to the va­lue of the procu­re­ment and the procu­re­ment must be car­ri­ed out in a fair and impar­ti­al man­ner. In ca­se a direct award may be of in­te­rest for a sup­pli­er in anot­her EU or EEA Member State, EU prin­ciples should ap­p­ly ins­te­ad.

“Interim pur­cha­ses” through direct award du­ring court pro­cee­dings

The Report con­tains a pro­po­sal which would enab­le contracting aut­ho­ri­ti­es and en­ti­ti­es to ma­ke “in­te­rim pur­cha­ses” through direct awards due to ongo­ing court pro­cee­dings in re­spect of a procu­re­ment (in­ter alia in ca­ses whe­re the term of an ex­is­ting contract is about to run out). An in­te­rim pur­cha­se contract would be per­mitted on­ly if the va­lue of the direct award do­es not ex­ceed the EU th­res­holds, and pro­vi­ded that the sco­pe of the direct­ly awar­ded contract – in­clu­ding the contract term – is li­mi­ted to what is ne­ces­sa­ry.

Social and ot­her spe­ci­fic ser­vices

The EU th­res­hold va­lue for so­ci­al and ot­her spe­ci­fic ser­vices is ap­prox. SEK 7,100,000. The Report pro­po­ses that procu­re­ment of such ser­vices which ex­ceed the EU th­res­hold should ge­ne­ral­ly be con­duc­ted in ac­cor­dan­ce with the pro­po­sed flex­ib­le ru­les for non-EU procu­re­ment (in­clu­ding man­da­to­ry pub­li­ca­tion of the procu­re­ment at EU le­vel). If the contract va­lue is be­low the EU th­res­hold for so­ci­al and ot­her spe­ci­fic ser­vices, the Report pro­po­ses that direct award should be al­lo­wed.

Remedies

In con­nec­tion with the Report a re­vi­ew of the ru­les in the PPA and the UPA on re­me­di­es has al­so be­en car­ri­ed out. In this re­gard, the Report pro­po­ses in­ter alia that a sup­pli­er should pay an ap­pli­ca­tion fee when fi­ling a re­vi­ew ap­pli­ca­tion to the ad­mi­nist­ra­ti­ve court (the pro­po­sal is SEK 7,500). Furthermore, a me­cha­nism is pro­po­sed whe­re­by the lo­sing par­ty is ob­li­ga­ted to pay the costs of the counter­par­ty (as well as its own le­gal costs). These pro­po­sals con­cern both EU and non-EU procu­re­ment.

What is the next step?

The Report is cur­rent­ly on re­fer­ral for con­si­de­ra­tion to a num­ber of go­vern­ment agen­ci­es, courts and ot­her or­ga­ni­za­tions (such as spe­ci­al in­te­rest groups). It is sug­ges­ted in the Report that the pro­po­sed amend­ments should en­ter in­to for­ce on 1 July 2019. However, gi­ven the ex­tent of the pro­po­sed amend­ments and that a Government on­ly re­cent­ly took of­fice in Sweden, any im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­po­sed ru­les is li­kely to be post­po­ned.

The Report (in Swedish) can be found he­re:

https://www.re­ge­ring­en.se/ratt­s­li­ga-do­ku­ment/sta­tens-of­fent­li­ga-ut­red­ning­ar/2018/06/sou-201844/