The European Commission has published in November 2005 a Communication with new policy options on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that are agreementsbetween public authorities and businesses, whose aim is to carry out infrastructure projects or providing services to the public.
The Communication follows a major public consultation which was launched by the PPP Green Paper in April 2004. The Commission will clarify how EU rules should apply to the choice of private partners in “institutionalised PPPs”, which are public-service undertakings held jointly by both a public and a private partner. The Commission will also assess whether to propose a legislative initiative on concessions, to clarify both the term ‘concessions’ and the rules applicable to their award.
A key aim of the 2004 consultation was to find out how the rules and principles work in practice, to see if they are clear enough and if they suit the challenges and characteristics of PPPs. The options are presented with a view to ensuring effective competition for PPPs without unduly limiting the flexibility needed to design innovative and often complex projects.
Many respondents to the PPP Green Paper asked how EU rules should apply to the choice of private partners in “institutionalised PPPs” (IPPPs), which are public-service undertakings held jointly by both a public and a private partner. Overall, it appears at present that an Interpretative Communication would be better suited to this demand than fully-fledged legislation. This Interpretative Communication should be published during 2006.
A clear majority of participants in the consultation supported an EU initiative, legislative or non-legislative, on concessions, in order to clarify both the term ‘concessions’ and the rules applicable to their award. Having carefully considered all arguments and the factual information provided by stakeholders it appears that a legislative initiative is at present the prefered option.
However, the final decision on whether or not to take such a measure, and on its concrete shape, depends on further in-depth analysis, including an Impact Assessment, which will be carried out in 2006.