Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christopher Bovis
Chapter 2: Public procurement and contracting authorities
The term ‘contracting authority’ is a decisive element of the public procurement legal framework, as it determines the applicability of the relevant rules, encompassing the State, regional or local authorities, bodies governed by public law and associations formed by one or several of such authorities or one or several of such bodies governed by public law. Importantly, a far-reaching and transparent definition of the term contracting authorities is a crucial component in providing a clear understanding of the Public Procurement Directives’ remit. The structure of the Directives is such, to embrace the purchasing behaviour of all entities, which have a close association or connection with the State. These entities, although not officially part of the state, disperse public funds in pursuit or on behalf of the public interest. State (executive and judiciary), regional and local authorities are normally easy to recognise; however, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether the role of other bodies or associations means that they fall within the legal framework of a ‘contracting authority’. This chapter seeks to identify the legal remit of the term, ‘contracting authority’ within the Public Procurement arena; through determining the European Courts’ interpretation of the types of authorities which are caught by the Public Procurement Directives. Public procurement law regulates the purchasing by public sector bodies and certain utility sector bodies of contracts for goods, works or services; regulation of such activities is coordinated by the current EU Directive 2004/18/EC.
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