Against the Grain? - Member State Interests and EU Procurement Law
M Varju (ed), Between Compliance and Particularism: Member State Interests and European Union Law (Springer, Forthcoming)
17 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2017 Last revised: 22 Jan 2018
Date Written: August 18, 2017
EU public procurement law has been increasingly criticised for the restrictions it places on Member States’ regulatory autonomy and for the imposition of neoliberal conceptions of State intervention in the economy that do not necessarily match the general preferences of Member States with a social market economy orientation. Following that view, it could be thought that there is a limited (and possibly narrowing) space for Member State interests in EU public procurement law—or, in other words, that pursuing national interests goes against the grain of the internal market foundations of the 2014 Public Procurement Package.
The purpose of this chapter is to dispel this conception by making three points. First, that despite its competition-orientedness, the 2014 Public Procurement Package does not impose a ‘one-size-fits-all’ straitjacket on domestic economic systems, but is rather compatible with diversity of economic models at national level. A series of complex trade-offs resulting from the last revision of the EU public procurement rules, where Member State interests played a multifaceted role, have consolidated a competition-based model with significant flexibility for non-market and non-competed mechanisms, as repeatedly tested before and confirmed by the Court of Justice. Second, that EU public procurement law, however, does appropriately prevent Member States from pursuing protectionist policies, even if they consider them to be in their national interest—quod non, because the proper working of the internal market is both in the collective interest of the EU and of the individual Member States. Third, that EU public procurement law, in particular in its current incarnation in the 2014 Public Procurement Package, emphasises the ability of Member States to pursue secondary policies (such as the promotion of innovation or sustainability) in a diverse manner, in accordance with their domestic interests and local particularism. On the whole, thus, EU public procurement law allows Member States significant space to pursue their national interests, always provided that they are also compatible with their own interest in the proper functioning of the internal market.
Keywords: public procurement, national interest, regulatory space, internal market, regulatory reform
JEL Classification: F15, H57, K23, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation