Innovative Procurement for sustainable roads: a win-win

Stéphane Nicoud, MEP Ismail Ertug, André Burger (left to right)

Hosted by MEP Ismail Ertug, EUPAVE organized on 19 April a successful lunch-debate on " Innovative procurement for sustainable roads: a win-win" in the European Parliament.

Opening the event, MEP Ertug welcomed the audience and noted that innovation is needed in all transport modes. He also emphasised the importance of the new EU rules on Public Procurement to achieve more innovation and competition.

MEP Ismail Ertug

In order to have a shift towards an energy and resource efficient economy, EUPAVE's President Stéphane Nicoud highlighted the need to introduce more competition between types of pavements in public procurement by taking a long term view and avoid focusing on initial costs. President Nicoud called on public authorities to make more efficient use of taxpayers' money and to incorporate life-cycle assessment of infrastructure when tendering their road contracts.

EUPAVE's Secretary General Karl Downey referred to a study from the US which showed that states using a more even balance of pavement types (asphalt and concrete) get better value for money. The study showed that asphalt and concrete unit prices drop as the share of concrete in the overall paving budget increases from 0 to 35%. According to Mr. Downey, that means that a road authority could get over one million square metres of extra concrete pavements for the same annual budget. In order to make better use of public resources, he called for introducing healthier competition between pavement types in the bids for public contracts. EUPAVE's Secretary General also gave good procurement examples for fair and objective competition from Canada and the Netherlands, while reminding the audience that the European Commission's Green Public Procurement criteria for road construction, to be adopted next month, are a step in the right direction.

Jaroslav Kračún (DG GROW, European Commission) explained the new EU Directives on Public Procurement and Concessions, which are applicable since 18 April 2016. These rules aim to be simpler, more efficient and provide the best value for money for public purchases while respecting the principles of transparency and competition. As such, they stipulate that “contracting authorities shall base the award of public contracts on the most economically advantageous tender” instead of the lowest initial investment cost. Mr. Kračún also emphasised that the Directives foresee the possibility to implement Green Public Procurement and to use life-cycle costing as criteria to award contracts.

From the contractor EUROVIA, Alexandra Vidal delivered a presentation about concrete roads as a good solution in Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). She explained the involvement of EUROVIA in three PPP road projects in Germany (A4 Hörselberge, A5 Malsch-Offenburg and A9 Lederhose). She also noted that there are 9 road PPPs currently ongoing in Germany and all of them chose concrete. According to her, concrete's durability characteristics make it the preferred choice in privately-funded road projects. 

Afterwards, there was a lively debate with interesting contributions from the audience. EUPAVE's Vice-President André Burger concluded by praising the quality of the presentations and debate while inviting everybody to work together in order to exploit the full potential of the new Public Procurement rules and to move towards a full application of the Green Public Procurement criteria for road construction.

See photos from the event:  

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