Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christopher Bovis
Chapter 5: Public procurement and award criteria
A procurement procedure is very much like a hurdle race or maybe, even better, like a board game (or a video game, for those even marginally younger than me). The competitors – called economic operators in EU English – must clear a number of obstacles such as meeting technical specifications and passing the qualification phase. Those fit enough to survive these stages may move to the final level of the game, that is the award phase. At this level one and only one economic operator will be chosen to be the contractor (unless of course the contract is awarded into lots or the procedure is either for the conclusion of framework agreements or to set up a dynamic purchasing system). The usual flow of the procedure is captured by Article 44 of Directive 2004/18/EC (‘Verification of the suitability and choice of participants and award of contracts’) according to which contracts shall be awarded on the basis of the criteria provided in the directive, after the suitability of the economic operators not excluded has been checked by contracting authorities in accordance with the criteria of economic and financial standing, of professional and technical knowledge or ability. Very shortly put, award criteria are those indicators allowing the contracting authorities to chose the contractor among the economic operators having made it to the final level of the game: and the winner is … In domestic law award procedures (and award criteria) have been designed to maximise the benefit contracting authorities can derive from any given contract.
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