The COVID-19 crisis is having a serious impact on the economy and businesses. In these circumstances, public procurement can be of even greater importance than usual and various questions arise, such as:
In many countries the legal situation is changing rapidly, and time is valuable. CMS Public Procurement team has prepared a brief but comprehensive overview of the main developments in 23 countries. The overview includes links to articles or official guidance for further information on each country.
Summary of the key aspects
The European Commission has issued a guidance regarding choice of procedures and deadlines in public procurement under the EU public procurement law. The guidance is available here.
Bernt Elsner, Robert Keisler, Ruth Bittner
Several legal measures have been taken in the last few weeks. They included the suspension of deadlines for remedies; however, this suspension has been revoked in the last few days. Apart from that, there have been no changes in the legal situation until now. For further information on this and other questions, see Guidance for public procurement procedures in Austria during the COVID-19 crisis.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The main question for Bosnia and Herzegovina is whether the extraordinary circumstance is considered a force majeure event. Currently, our answer is negative, but this may change.
Kostadin Sirleshtov, Zornitsa Stoykova, Antonia Kehayova
The Bulgarian parliament adopted measures in the recent state-of-emergency law (Emergency Measures Act) to regulate major relationships during the current crisis, which for example stipulate that the Public Procurement Act will not be applied for certain medical devices. However, questions still remain. For more detail, see Bulgaria: Public procurements during the coronavirus crisis.
|A notice was issued by the PRC Ministry of Finance (Cai Ban Ku  No. 29) on 6 February 2020 that covers various questions related to public procurement, such as for example the suspension of deadlines in procurement procedures. See here for further details.|
María Lucia Amador, Daniel Rodríguez
With the appearance of COVID-19 in Colombia, the National Government has declared the country in State of Social, Economic and Ecological Emergency (the “State of Emergency”) by means of Decree 417 of 2020, enabling the President to issue Legislative Decrees designed to overcome the emergency. Based on this, a series of public procurement measures have been adopted which may be of interest to our clients. For further details see Public Procurement Emergency measures adopted by the Colombian National Government to address COVID-19.
Marija Mušec, Mia Kanceljak
Croatian Government adopted a Decision to limit use of the state budget in 2020, which prescribes that as of 4 April 2020 budgetary and extra-budgetary entities in Croatia must suspend all public tenders and are not allowed to initiate new tenders, unless doing so is necessary to carry out their essential functions and work.
The Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts issued a Recommendation to contracting authorities on the requirements and delivery of the bid guarantee. The recommendation concerns the fact that the original copy of the bid guarantee must be delivered and timely delivery of the bid guarantees is difficult due to the restrictions on movement within Croatia (prohibition to leave residence) and restrictions on international travel.
Also, the Ministry issued a Recommendation to contracting authorities on the public opening of bids, in the light of a previous Civil Protection Directorate decision on limiting social gatherings and the obligation of employers to cancel meetings and organize teleconferences for future meetings, which is also reflected in public procurement procedures.
Moreover, the State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures (DKOM) adopted a decision on communication with clients during the crisis.
For more information, please see the Guidelines for Public Procurement in Croatia during the Covid-19 Crisis.
Even though specific COVID-19 related public procurement law or rules have not been issued yet, in light of the state of emergency in the Czech Republic declared on 12 March 2020, the Office for the Protection of Competition of the Czech Republic published a statement regarding public procurement. For further for details on that statement and other aspects, see article Czech procurement rules waived for COVID-19 emergency medical supplies.
François Tenailleau, Kawthar Ben Khelil
|In the field of public procurement, positions were quickly stated by the French public authorities in response to the health crisis related to the Covid-19 epidemic. However, there was no specific legal framework for this period of crisis. This is now the case with the Ordinance of 25 March 2020 on public procurement in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, see article Public procurement contracts in the context of the Covid-19 crisis in France.|
Tobias Sdunzig, Jakob Steiff
In the course of the current COVID19 pandemic, various measures have been adopted in Germany (both at a federal and state level) to enable public purchasers to procure services which will help to contain the pandemic and maintain the public administration's ability to act more easily and quickly. For more details, see a guidance for public procurement procedures in Germany in times of COVID-19.
There have been legal amendments, such as the Government Decree No. 48/2020, effective since March 20, that introduced an exception for direct purchases from Hungarian sources (not including those from EU sources) for certain goods mentioned in the Public Procurement Act. For more detail, see article Hungary relaxes certain public-procurement rules during COVID-19 crisis.
Pietro Cavasola, Marco Iannacci, Tiziana Masone
Among the government measures adopted for the current health emergency, none expressly refer to the course of tender procedures that have already been launched or the execution of ongoing public contracts. However, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure has issued a notice regarding the suspension of deadlines. For further details on this matter see here.
Petra Heemskerk, Olav de Wit
|The Dutch government has left it up to contracting authorities to decide on how to continue with procurement procedures and has not yet taken any specific legal measures in this regard. However, several of the provisions for exceptional cases in the relevant law are already fulfilled in the current situation. For further details, see: Netherlands: guidance for Dutch public procurement procedures in response to COVID-19.|
Malgorzata Urbańska, Magdalena Wyszynska
|The legal measures taken in an act on specific solutions related to preventing, counteracting and combating COVID-19, include provisions that revokes the Public Procurement Law for certain goods. For more on this question and other specific aspects, see Public Procurement Market in Poland adapts to the pandemic reality.|
In Peru, the Government has issued a series of measures to tackle coronavirus. The most important is the declaration of the “state of emergency”, which restricts several citizens’ rights. Following this special situation, the Government has issued specific measures regarding public procurement during the state of emergency:
For the performance of contracts, our current Public Procurement Act provides two solutions: (i) the state of emergency is considered a force majeure event and, as a consequence, allows the parties to ask for more time to execute their obligations; and, (ii) the parties are allowed to agree to suspend the contract, during the state of emergency.
Several regulations have so far been enacted to tackle this state of emergency.
Gonçalo Guerra Tavares
In Portugal, the President has declared a State of Emergency, but the Government has not yet adopted any specific measures related to ongoing procurement procedures. For more details see here.
Gabriel Sidere, Cristina Popescu, Laura Capata
|The legal measures taken did not include any amendments to the public procurement legal framework in Romania. However, the current developments have a significant impact on public procurement procedures, and particular questions arise. For more on this question and others, see: COVID-19 State of Emergency in Romania and Impact on Public Procurement.|
Russia has passed new laws on tightened liability, insolvency, rents, public procurement and medicines.
On 1 April 2020, a number of amendments to Russian laws came into force in connection with the spread of COVID-19. Among others, the Russian Public Procurement Law has been amended. More specifically, in accordance with the amendments, goods, works and services (“goods”) may be purchased without observing the established competitive procedures if the following conditions are met:
Another important change makes it possible for parties to an existing public procurement agreement to amend the timing of the performance and the price of the agreement if it is no longer possible to perform the agreement due to COVID-19 or other force majeure reasons. This exceptional regulation is subject to several conditions and will remain in force until the end of 2020.
Petra Corba Stark, Martin Balaz, Vladimira Rostarova
|The Slovak National Council passed Act No. 62/2020 Coll. on certain extraordinary measures in connection with the spread of COVID-19, which, amongst other things, amends Act No. 343/2015 Coll. on Public Procurement. For more on this question and others, see: Guidance on public procurement procedures in Slovakia during the COVID-19 crisis.|
Dunja Jandl, Tamara Žajdela
Slovenia is adopting the “Anti-Corona Package 1” Act, which introduces measures to mitigate the effects of the corona epidemic. Regarding public procurement, a measure to increase the thresholds for the application of the Public Procurement Act (ZJN-3) is envisaged, namely from EUR 20,000 to EUR 40,000 for supply and services, and from EUR 40,000 to EUR 80,000 for works. The act will come into force around 27 March 2020.
The ministry has also explicitly clarified that provisions of the adopted Act on Temporary Measures Relating to Judicial, Administrative and Other Public Law Matters to Control the Spread of the Infectious Disease SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) do not apply to public procurement procedures.
South Africa declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national state of disaster on 15 March in accordance with the Disaster Management Act.
In Spain, several legal measures have been taken related to public procurement that include the suspension of certain contracts to be performed on a regular basis with which it is impossible to comply because of COVID-19, and the Administration will indemnify the damages caused. See our publications Royal Decree-Law 11/2020 of 1 April on urgent and supplementary social and economic measures in the fight against the virus and Guide analysing Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 on urgent and extraordinary measures to address the economic and social impact of COVID-19 for further information.
Marquard Christen, Fabian Martens
To date, no COVID-19-related legal changes or recommendations specifically about public procurement law have been put in place. The federal government extended the general standstill for deadlines during the Easter holidays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which does affect some public procurement law procedure deadlines. Urgent procurement of emergency goods (e.g. face masks, hand sanitisers, etc.) may already be subject to exceptions from public procurement under the current law.
Döne Yalçın, Levent Bilgi
On 2 April 2020, Circular no. 2020/5 on the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on Turkish public procurement contracts (the “Circular”) was passed with presidential decree and published in Official Gazette no. 31087.
According to the Circular, contractors, which won tenders have the right to claim impossibility of performance due to the coronavirus pandemic. In response to such claim, the relevant public body may provide the contractor with a time extension or contract termination. To ensure service continuity during and after the pandemic, relevant public bodies will evaluate each claim on a case by case basis and the relevant public bodies will provide further guidance.
Based on our experience this legal development will be crucial for contractors that recently won government tenders that may now have to reconsider their budgets. For more information, see article COVID-19 – Force majeure in public procurement contracts?
Caroline Hobson, Graeme Young, Shona Murphy
Useful clarification on the application of the procurement rules to the current COVID-19 crisis has been published by the UK and Scottish governments that addresses, for example, the direct award of contracts or modifications of existing contracts. For more on these and other questions, see: Buying in a crisis – UK and Scottish Governments clarify how the public sector procurement rules can be applied during the COVID-19 crisis.
Anna Pogrebna, Maria Orlyk
Public procurement procedures in Ukraine have not been significantly affected by the measures aimed at the overcoming of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. Up to date, only an exemption from procurement procedures of for pharmaceuticals, medical products and medical equipment used for combatting the coronavirus has been introduced by the Law of Ukraine “On the Amendment of Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Aimed at the Prevention and Limiting Spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)”, adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on 17 March 2020. Contracting authorities shall procure these goods under specific regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (“CMU”) until 18 April 2020. For more information see here.