The Financial Regulation (FR) applicable to the general budget of the European Union sets out the principles for implementation of the budget, including the principle of transparency. There are various rules on the appropriate publication of information (particularly ex-post information) about implementation of the budget, including about contracts awarded, the relevant provisions here being Article 163 of the FR and points 2 and 3 of Annex I to the FR. Contracts are deemed to have been ‘awarded’ either when the award decision is taken or, failing that, when the first contract (which may be a framework contract) is signed. Article 38 of the FR provides only for the publication of information on contracts awarded over the previous two years; earlier information will be available on request with due regard for Regulation (EU) No 2018/1725.
Accordingly, as regards publication of information, under the new provisions in points 2.5. and 3.3. of Annex I to the FR notices must be published on ongoing contracts the value of which has been modified without a new procurement procedure, as laid down in Article 172 of the FR.
Contracts covered by Directive 2014/24/EU
In the case of contracts awarded in 2017 and 2018 and in accordance with point 2 of Annex I to the FR, the provisions on ex-post advertising of contracts covered by Directive 2014/24/EU stipulate that an award notice must be sent to the Publications Office of the European Union no later than 30 calendar days after the conclusion of the procedure, i.e. the signing of the contract or framework contract.
The award notice must also be sent to the Publications Office in respect of a contract with a value equal to or greater than the thresholds laid down in points (a) and (b) of Article 4 of Directive 2014/24/EU (Article 175(1) of the FR) that has been awarded following a negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice. In that instance, the contracting authority must publish an award notice:
(a) before signing a contract or a framework contract with a value equal to or greater than the thresholds laid down in Article 175(1) of the FR that has been awarded pursuant to the procedure under point 11.1.(b) of Annex I to the FR;
(b) after signing a contract or a framework contract with a value equal to or greater than the thresholds laid down in Article 175(1) of the FR, in particular if it has been awarded pursuant to the procedure under point 11.1. of Annex I to the FR.
The deadline for sending the notice must be long enough to ensure that publication takes place before the contract or framework contract is signed, in accordance with the terms and arrangements laid down in point 35.1. of Annex I to the FR.
On 1 January 2018 the thresholds under Directive 2014/24/EU (Article 175(1) of the FR) were as follows:
Contracts not covered by Directive 2014/24/EU
Article 163 of the FR and point 3 of Annex I to the FR stipulate, with regard to ex post advertising of contracts not covered by Directive 2014/24/EU, that contracts ‘shall be advertised by appropriate means’. Advertising includes publication no later than 30 June of the following financial year - for contracts with a value greater than EUR 15 000 - of a list containing the name of the contractor, the amount concerned and the subject matter of the contract. However, point 3.3. of Annex I to the FR stipulates that the contracting authority must publish, on its internet site, a list of contracts below the thresholds laid down in Article 175(1) of the FR and contracts awarded in accordance with points 11.1.(h) and (j) to (m) of Annex I to the FR.
Article 172(3)(a) to (c) of the FR
The contracting authority may modify a contract or framework contract without a fresh procurement procedure in the cases listed in paragraph 3. Under Article 3.3. of Annex i to the FR, however, a list of such modified contracts must be published where the value of the modification concerned is below the thresholds laid down in Article 175(1) of the FR, which are the Directive 2014/24/EU thresholds given above.
Specific contracts based on framework contracts
Information relating to the value of and contractors for specific contracts and order forms based on a framework contract during a given financial year must be published on the contracting authority’s website no later than 30 June of the following financial year.
Under point 3 of Annex I to the FR, as a result of the amendments to the FR, that information must be published for the cumulative value of each framework contract, even where it is below the directive’s thresholds but is more than EUR 15 000.
The publication arrangements are therefore as follows:
Publication on Parliament’s website, no later than 30 June of the following year, of:
Building contracts and contracts declared to be secret, referred to in point 11.1.(g) and (i) respectively of Annex I to the FR, are no longer published separately on the internet; rather, they are included in the annual report on contracts awarded that is submitted to Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control.
Contracts, including specific contracts, based on framework contracts awarded by political groups
As from 2019, Article 38(4) of the FR as amended by new Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 directly requires bodies implementing Union funds to publish information on the use of those funds. Accordingly, that requirement extends to the political groups in that under the relevant Bureau rules - the ‘Item 400’ rules - group-managed appropriations are considered to be equivalent to indirectly managed appropriations.
Information relating to Article 38 of the FR and points 3.3. and 3.4. of Annex I to the FR, and to a given financial year, is published the following year in a schedule drawn up by each political group.