Collaborative public procurement has been gaining traction in recent years and could be considered at the spearhead of public procurement reform and innovation. The 2014 reform of the EU public procurement rules (mainly Directive 2014/24) has expanded the tool-kit available to contracting authorities willing to engage in joint or centralised procurement activities, and in particularly in cross-border procurement collaboration. In a push forward, and as part of the Strategy for a deeper and fairer single market in its larger context, the European Commission is developing a policy to facilitate and promote cross-border collaborative public procurement in the European Union.This paper adopts a sceptical approach and critically assesses the political, economic and in particular legal factors that can facilitate or block such development. To do so, it focuses on a case study based on a theoretical scenario of cross-border collaboration between centralised purchasing bodies in different EU Member States. The paper ultimately aims to establish a blueprint for future legal research in this area, in particular regarding the emergence of trans-EU public law.
In EasyPay and Finance Engineering (C-185/14), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has revisited the concept of undertaking for the purposes of the application of EU competition law. It has clarified the test applicable to economic agents engaging in ‘mixed’ economic and non-economic activities. The EasyPay test determines that, in order not to be qualified as “economic” because of its links with another activity that fulfils an exclusively social function based on the principle of solidarity and entirely non-profit making, an activity must, by its nature, its aims and the rules to which it is subject, be inseparably connected to it. In the paper, we discuss how the CJEU has arguably given a stricter interpretation and adopted a less lenient approach to the severability or separation of activities than in previous cases like FENIN, Selex or Compass-Datenbank. In our view, this interpretation is anchored on a functional analysis of the concept of undertaking, and it is a welcome development that will have far reaching implications.Beyond that general discussion, the paper focuses on the potential implications of the EasyPay test in the area of public procurement and, in particular, for the activities of central purchasing bodies. We submit that EasyPay facilitates a revision of the current position regarding the direct applicability of EU competition law to entities carrying out public procurement activities and, in particular, central purchasing bodies. We also submit that this is highly desirable because it grants legal certainty to economic operators when dealing with a central purchasing body, to the effect that the purchasing activities will be under competition law and the derived constrains on the market behaviour of large public buyers that may abuse of their buyer power.
Sánchez Graells, Albert and Herrera Anchustegui, Ignacio, Impact of Public Procurement Aggregation on Competition. Risks, Rationale and Justification for the Rules in Directive 2014/24 (December 5, 2014). University of Leicester School of Law Research Paper No. 14-35. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2534496.