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Guidance from the European Commission on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis

23 April 2020

The European Commission recently published a guidance document on the use of the public procurement framework in the emergency situation caused by the Covid ‐ 19 crisis. These guidelines explain the options and flexibility under the EU public procurement framework for the purchases needed to deal with the crisis. The guidelines are mainly intended to facilitate procurement in extremely urgent cases.

Options to accelerate
Public buyers have several options they can consider:

  • Firstly, in cases of urgency they can avail themselves of possibilities to substantially reduce the deadlines to accelerate open or restricted procedures.
  • Should those flexibilities not be sufficient, a negotiated procedure without publication can be envisaged. Eventually, even a direct award to a preselected economic operator could be allowed, provided the latter is the only one able to deliver the required supplies within the technical and time constraints imposed by the extreme urgency.
  • In addition, public buyers should also consider looking at alternative solutions and engaging with the market.

 Negotiated procedure without publication
The use of a negotiated procedure without publication means that public purchasers can negotiate directly with market parties without regard to time limits and other procedural requirements. Applying this is only possible if a regular (non) public or accelerated procedure is insufficient. In addition, it must concern circumstances that were unforeseeable and cannot be attributed to the contracting authority.

Cases of extreme urgency
The Commission confirms that the immediate and specific need of hospitals and other health care facilities for beds, protective equipment, respirators and the like was unforeseeable and is also Corona related. This is without a doubt imperative. The very short deadlines for the accelerated open or restricted procedure (15 and 10 days before the submission of tenders, respectively) are often insufficient due to the sharp increase in demand.

Innovation procurement
However, confronted with situations of an exceptional increase in the demand of similar goods, products and services coupled with a significant disruption of the supply chain, it may be physically/technically impossible to procure using even the fastest available procedures. To satisfy their needs, public buyers may have to look for alternative and possibly innovative solutions, which might already be available on the market or could be capable of being deployed at (very) short notice. Public buyers will have to identify solutions and interact with potential suppliers in order to assess whether these alternatives meet their needs (3). Interaction with the market may offer

good opportunities to take into account also strategic public procurement aspects, where environmental, innovative and social requirements, including accessibility to any services procured, are integrated in the procurement process.

Duration of application
Public purchasers can use the procedure until structural solutions are available again, such as tendering a framework agreement according to a regular (non) public or accelerated procedure. 

Corvers together with her sister organization Vtrek can give guidance on what (accelerated) procedure to use, in helping to identify which solutions are already on the market (through a State of the Art Analyses) and give guidance on how to perform innovation procurement.

Source: European Commission

You can find and download the guidelines here