On April 1, 2020, the European Commission published a "Guidance on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis" (Official Journal of the European Union, 2020/C 108 I/01). In particular, the Commission explains various options for awarding public contracts as quickly as possible within the European public procurement framework, which remains unchanged in this respect.
In an emergency situation such as this, procurement is possible within a matter of days, even hours, if necessary - and is covered by public procurement law. Public buyers should make full use of the flexibility offered by public procurement law. The guidance points out the following:
- in cases of urgency, the deadlines for each procedure may be substantially reduced;
- there are no requirements concerning the minimum number of candidates to be consulted;
- should those flexibilities not be sufficient, contracts may also be awarded directly;
- the need to meet immediate needs as quickly as possible, particularly those of hospitals and health institutions, constitutes an "emergency"; this also applies to the purchase of supplies, services, and works needed to address the crisis.
The Introduction to the Communication states verbatim:
"In practice, this means that authorities can act as quickly as is technically/physically feasible"; public buyers may "contact potential contractors in and outside the EU by phone, e-mail or in person."
From the point of view of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Communication is a useful addition to its March 19, 2020 circular.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.