It is our pleasure to introduce the eighth edition of The Government Procurement Review.
Our geographical coverage this year remains impressive, covering 15 jurisdictions, including the European Union, and the continued political and economic significance of government procurement remains clear. Government contracts, which are of considerable value and importance, often account for 10 to 20 per cent of gross domestic product in any given state, and government spending is often high profile, with the capacity to shape the future lives of local residents.
When we started to produce this edition, we imagined that we would be focusing in detail once again in this preface principally on the trials and tribulations of Brexit: how quickly the landscape has changed! Suddenly all talk in procurement circles in the EU and beyond centres on the exigencies of the covid-19 crisis, whether that be modifications to existing contracts to reflect the 'new normal' (for instance in the recasting of rail franchise agreements in the UK) or the tension between procurement procedures and the need for urgent procurement of PPE and other medical needs. Many national chapters also consider the changes to procurement practice and rules centring around the imperative to kick-start economies as soon as the worst of the pandemic is behind us.
All of this has resulted in specific guidance at EU level and in the US, Germany, the UK (with the publication of three Procurement Policy Notes in short order) and elsewhere. So far, the European Commission has limited its communications to clarifying the current law. In due course, however, it is possible that there will be a relaxation of procurement law to enable authorities to respond more flexibly to the unprecedented challenges they are facing, and may face in the future. By way of example of changes already effected: (1) financial thresholds were raised in parts of Germany; and (2) new legislative provisions, adopted in February and March 2020 in Greece, allow use of the negotiated procedure for the supply not just of medical equipment but also other items necessary for contracting authorities and entities to adapt to the new situation. More generally, the proposed new legislation in Italy, with a strong focus on the treatment of subcontracting, is particularly noteworthy. There are also significant procurement law developments in Russia, including an extension of circumstances in which single sourcing is permitted.
Brexit is still out there! It remains the case that the United Kingdom continues to recognise the importance of procurement law both during and beyond the transitional period. Her Majesty's Government has pronounced itself committed to the need for continued regulation of procurement and, having secured approval from the World Trade Organization, the United Kingdom will become party to the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) in its own right, rather than through the European Union, at the end of the Brexit transition period.
When reading chapters regarding European Union Member States, it is worth remembering that the underlying rules are set at EU level. Readers may find it helpful to refer to both the European Union chapter and the relevant national chapter, to gain a fuller understanding of the relevant issues. So far as possible, the authors have sought to avoid duplication between the EU chapter and national chapters.
Finally, we wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of the many contributors to this eighth edition as well as the tireless work of the publishers in ensuring that a quality product is brought to your bookshelves in a timely fashion, particularly given the effects of the pandemic and consequent lockdowns in most countries covered in this work. We trust you will find it to be a valued resource.
Jonathan Davey and Amy Gatenby
Addleshaw Goddard LLP