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C 110 E/52 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.

2003

(2003/C 110 E/053) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2373/02


by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Commission

(2 August 2002)

Subject: GATS

Local authorities are obliged to ensure that any contracts for services above a certain threshold are opened
to competition throughout the EU. Can the European Commission advise what, if any, threshold applies to
services which are subject to GATS?

(2003/C 110 E/054) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2374/02


by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Commission

(2 August 2002)

Subject: GATS

Local authorities in the UK promote environmental and social goals through the procurement of goods
and services, for example by specifying the use of recycled paper and timber from renewable resources.
Can the European Commission provide information on how GATS will limit local and national
government’s ability to include environmental and social criteria in their procurement activity?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2373/02 and E-2374/02
given by Mr Lamy on behalf of the Commission

(25 September 2002)

Article XIII-1 of the GATS stipulates that the provisions of the GATS concerning MFN, market access and
national treatment (i.e. GATS Articles II, XVI and XVII) do not apply to ‘laws, regulations or requirements
governing the procurement by governmental agencies of services purchased for governmental purposes
and not with a view to commercial resale or with a view to use in the supply of services for commercial
resale’.

GATS Article XIII-2 gives World Trade Organisation (WTO) Members a mandate to develop multilateral
rules to be applied to government procurement of services under the GATS. Until such multilateral rules
are agreed, GATS does not impose any obligation/constraint on thresholds, nor on the possibility to
promote environmental and social considerations when awarding contracts.

In the context of GATS Article XIII-2 negotiations, the European Communities and their Member States
have tabled a proposal on 15 July 2002 (S/WPGR/W/39) on a general framework for such rules. This
framework and the implementation of clear procurement rules (in particular transparency rules) would
contribute to good governance. This proposal suggests for instance that criteria used by public authorities
in their procurement activity should be transparent. It also stresses the flexibility offered by GATS to WTO
Members, who can decide which sectors to open up to international competition and which restrictions to
market access and national treatment to maintain. We will of course keep in mind our domestic regime,
regarding in particular thresholds and the taking into account of environmental and social requirements,
when negotiating future GATS rules.