A Deformed Principle of Competition? – The Subjective Drafting of Article 18(1) of Directive 2014/24
Forthcoming in GS Olykke & A Sanchez-Graells (eds), Reformation or Deformation of the EU Public Procurement Rules in 2014 (Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016).
15 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 12, 2015
In its 2011 Proposal for a new Directive on public procurement, the European Commission included the consolidation of the general principles of procurement. For the first time, in addition to the ‘classic’ triad of equality, non-discrimination and transparency, it expressly included the principle of competition amongst such general principles. In the 2011 Proposal, the Commission referred to an objective concept of restriction of competition, which would be proscribed by the future Directive. Successive negotiations allowed the Council and the European Parliament to alter the drafting of this provision. The final text in Article 18(1) of the 2014 Directive thus contains a different version of the principle of competition. In this final version, both a subjective element and a presumption of distortion of competition are included, which could diminish the effectiveness of the principle. Moreover, both deviations from the initial proposal by the Commission are difficult to reconcile with the existing case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
This paper traces the legislative evolution of the principle of competition in public procurement and looks for explanations for the alteration of its initial drafting. Looking to the future, it considers whether the CJEU will stand by the new drafting and limit the principle as desired by the Council and the Parliament or, conversely, it will promote a functional approach along the lines of the objective conception initially proposed by the Commission. This paper proposes that the second option is preferable and, in any case, more likely in view of the CJEU's treatment of similar issues in other areas of EU public procurement law (such as the classical anti-circumvention provisions), as well as EU economic law more generally (and, remarkably, competition law and the granting of State aid).
Keywords: Public procurement, Directive 2014/24, general principles, principle of competition, intention, subjective element, interpretation, objectification, legal certainty, good administration, CJEU
JEL Classification: K23, K42, H57
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation