Introduction to EU Procurement Directives Introduction to EU Procurement Directives

For Public Authorities such as the University EU procurement directives cover the purchase of supplies, works and services. These are enacted in UK law in Statutory Instruments: The Public Contracts Regulations 2006 (SI2006:5) and the Public Contracts (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (SI2009:2992).

The Directives are designed to open public spending to suppliers from across the European Union and as such imposes an obligation on buyers to advertise their requirements, use European standards and to treat all prospective suppliers in the same objective manner, irrespective of nationality.

Failure to comply with the detailed processes contained in the directive can lead to any prospective supplier applying to the High Court for damages, an injunction to stop the award process, or even to invalidate or terminate a contract that has already been awarded.

Thresholds Thresholds

The Directive applies to purchases above set thresholds, for Supplies and Services it is currently £181,302 and for Works it is £4,551,413.

Thresholds are based on the estimated price of the contract before VAT, but including the value of any materials or services provided by UEA free of charge. For term contracts the threshold is based on the estimated spend over the whole of the contract period (up to 4 years) or on four years spend for longer contracts.

For Supplies and Services (but not for Works), the threshold is based on the University's total annual spend on a particular commodity or service even if the individual purchase is below the threshold.

Not all Services contracts need to be advertised in OJEU. Those listed under Part B, Schedule 3 of the Regulations should use standard European specifications where appropriate and an Award Notice must be published in OJEU at the end of the process. They are, however, exempt from the need to issue a 'call for competition'.

Procedures Procedures

There are five procedures that we can use for each of the directives:

  • Open procedure where all suppliers, interested in the contract and who meet the criteria set out in the contract notice, can submit tenders.

  • Restricted procedure where we select suppliers to tender, based on objective criteria, and only they may submit tenders.

  • Negotiated procedure where authorities may negotiate the terms of a contract with one or more suppliers of their choice.  This procedure can only be used in certain justified circumstances.

  • Competitive Dialogue procedure which, in particularly complex procurements, allows for post-tender negotiations with (a minimum of 3) tenderers.

  • Dynamic Purchasing Systems which require an e-procurement system to be established for the receipt of tenders and the award of contracts.  UEA does not currently have access to such a system.

UEA will normally use the Restricted Procedure.

Timescales Timescales

All timescales stated are minimum periods 

Open Procedures

52 days (36 days) for the receipt of tenders

Restricted Procedure

37 days for receipt of requests to participate
40 days (26 days) for the receipt of tenders

Negotiated Procedure

37 days for the receipt of requests to participate

Standstill (all procedures)

10 days between rejecting unsuccessful tenders
and awarding the contract to the successful tenderer

The number of days may be reduced to those shown in ( ) where you have issued an indicative / prior information notice (PIN). Organisations are required to publish as soon as possible after the beginning of their financial year the intended total procurement which they envisage awarding during the subsequent 12 months where the total estimated value is not less than £513,166 for Services and Supplies. A PIN should be issued as soon as possible for Works contracts.

Advertising in the Official Journal of the European Union Advertising in the Official Journal of the European Union

If the Directives apply to a particular purchase, it is first necessary to publish a 'Call for Competition' in the supplement to the OJEU (formerly OJEC).  The date the notice is sent for publication is the start date for the timescales mentioned above.

In order to co-ordinate the required annual return to HEFCE, all PINs, Calls for Competition (and Award Notices) will be sent from the Purchasing Office.

This paper is intended to give a general overview and expert advice should be sought from the Purchasing Office for any prospective purchase over the thresholds mentioned above.


Procurement Guidance Note 4

SRB/July 2003/RevAug11