I had the chance to take part as an expert witness this week at the hearings of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on the Concessions Directive.
The debate is important, because PPP are widely considered to be crucial to the delivery of the Europe 2020 agenda and studies published with the legislative proposal for concessions suggest that around 60% of PPP are capable of being classified as concessions. The Commission argues (rightly in my view) in its Impact Assessment supporting the Concessions Directive that the current legal position is unsatisfactory and new secondary legislation is the only practical option (http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/docs/concessions/SEC2011_1588_en.pdf).
The debate was lively, because some stakeholders, including some Member States, are rather sceptical of the need for new secondary legislation on concessions at all. Others argue that amendments to the Public Procurement Directives are more appropriate than a stand alone Directive, while, if concessions are not really conceptually different from public contracts (e.g. in terms of the need to apply Treaty principles and public procurement principles and secure value for money, it’s difficult to justify different award procedures. Watch the debate here (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20120321-0900-COMMITTEE-IMCO&vodtype=Live).
As the chairman (Malcolm Harbour MEP) said, this meeting was what hearings should be about ie an open expression of divergent views. He and the Committee's rapporteur (Philippe Juvin MEP) deserve praise for creating the right conditions for such a debate.
It was a good example of the EU working well in the cause of the unified Internal Market, one of its cornerstones and key to its competitiveness in the global economy