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Changes in EU External Action Procurement


EU External Aid Sector Seminar 2020

On 26 November, Schuman Associates moderated the 2020 edition of the EU Sector Seminar for External Aid, organised online by the Permanent Representation of Germany and Spain to the EU and ICEX – Spain Trade and Invest. The speakers were the European Commission's Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) Legal Affairs Head of Unit, Ms Dolores Dominguez, and Legal Affairs Head of Sector Contracts and Financial Questions, Mr Nicolas Provençal.

Over 600 private sector representatives registered to understand the latest changes to the EU External Action Procurement Practical Guide (PRAG) – which covers procurement and grant award procedures for European Union external actions. Participants also gained a preview of upcoming changes expected under the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), starting in 2021 – notably with regard to the new external aid instrument (NDICI) as well as consequences for the UK.

 What you need to know

  1. PRAG is used for projects under the European Development Fund and the EU budget by:
    • DG DEVCO (International Cooperation and Development)
    • DG NEAR (Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations)
    • FPI (Service for Foreign Policy Instruments)
    • DG REFORM (Structural Reform Support)
  2. There are different procurement procedures depending on the amount of the tender and the type of contract (service, supply and works). The competitive negotiated procedure is now called a simplified procedure.
  3. Procurement notices are published on TED, EuropeAid and the new Funding & Tenders portal.
  4. For procurement notices that are not published, companies are either invited to submit tenders on a short deadline, or the contract is awarded directly to a consortium for specific reasons (following an unsuccessful tender, urgency, repetition or monopoly).
  5. There are specific rules related to nationality, origin, exclusion criteria, code of conduct, and sanctions. When all the supporting documents are approved, the contract is either awarded for the lowest price (supplies and works) or best price-quality ratio (services). 

 Principal novelties

  1. DG DEVCO, DG NEAR and FPI are now using the Public Procurement Management Tool (PPMT). Contract notices will be published on TED and F&T and will disappear from EuropeAid in the near future.
  2. The reference period under the technical and professional capacity criteria is now set at three years by default, except where the Contracting Authority wishes to extend this. If this is the case, the period is provided under the technical selection criterion for equal treatment.
  3. The Prior Information Notice (PIN) is now optional rather than obligatory.
  4. An entity may rely on other entities to perform, with or without a consortium. 

Next steps

While the EU External Aid funding offers many business opportunities, the funding landscape is complex with multiple funding instruments, actors and management modalities. The European Commission is currently working on PRAG 2021, which will reflect the new MFF and financial instruments, as well as the digital transition and the impact of Brexit.

In order to tap into these opportunities successfully, it is essential to:

  1. Understand both the policy and funding cycles
  2. Obtain early intelligence in order to elaborate efficient business strategies
  3. Pre-position well in advance in order to gain a competitive advantage
  4. Work with the right partners
  5. Systematically monitor business leads
  6. Have a proficient bid management team

To discover funding opportunities for your business around EU External Aid funding, get in touch.

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