Estonian procurement procedure fastest in the Baltics
In larger and often EU-funded co-operation projects between the Baltic States as well as in business of Pan-Baltic companies subjected to obligatory public procurement the practical question arises: should Estonian, Latvian or Lithuanian procurement regulation be preferred?
In the course of our legal analysis on the establishment of the Rail Baltic Joint Venture (TRINITI Rail Baltic Joint Venture Study 2013), commissioned by the Baltic inter-governmental task force, we recently finished the analyses of this issue and came to the conclusion that the Estonian procurement procedure should be preferred, if possible, mainly due to the following reasons:
– As a rule, after a procurement contract has been concluded, appeals affecting the validity of the contract cannot be filed in Estonia. In Latvia and Lithuania the noted appeal may be filed within 6 months of the conclusion of the contract.
– In Estonia, appeals may be filed within 7 working days following a relevant resolution by the contracting authority. In certain cases in Latvia and Lithuania this period extends to up to 15 days.
– A relatively small percentage of public procurements is altogether appealed in Estonia (4-5 percent). In Lithuania the indicator is a similar 3 percent; but in Latvia 13-14 percent of the procurements are disputed.
– On average, in Estonia the appeal of a procurement ready for contract takes no more than 6 months; in most cases appeals end with a decision of the Appeals Committee (the period from filing an appeal to the adoption of a decision is 30 days). In Latvia and Lithuania, however, the contract-ready procurements are processed pursuant to the general procedure, resulting in the relevant litigation taking as long as a maximum of 10 months in Lithuania and 2-5 years in Latvia!
Although the basic principles of procurement procedures in all three Baltic States are founded on the same EU legislation, the above-described clearly highlights that there is material difference in practise in favor of the Estonian regulation, especially in the procedures for solving appeals and applicable timelines.
With sizeable cross-border projects, coordinated joint procurements can save a significant amount of time and money, and it is good to note that in several cases such regional co-operation in the field of national defense and medicine has already been successfully undertaken:
– in 2009, Estonia and Finland implemented joint procurements for the purchase of three-dimensional medium-range radars;
– in May 2012, Baltic Ministers of Social Affairs and Public Health-Care signed a partnership agreement for the purchase of medication and medical devices by way of a joint procurement;
– in June 2012, the Baltic Ministers of Defense signed an agreement for the implementation of a joint procurement for the purchase of ammunition.