The European Parliament put an end to seven years of negotiations on 10 May 2007, by adopting a compromise text on how public transport service contracts should be awarded in member states.
The Parliament backed, at a second-reading vote on 10 May 2007, a compromise found with the Council on rules for local and regional public transport contracts, putting an end to seven years of haggling between institutions.
The regulation establishes that contracts with an average annual value of more than €1 million, or for the annual provision of more than 300,000 kilometres of public transport services, will automatically be subject to open competition, unless the local authority chooses to provide the service itself or to award it directly to an “internal operator” that it controls.
For smaller-scale contracts, local authorities will also retain the right to choose whether to award directly or open them to tender. Furthermore, to help smaller businesses to survive, the rules allow local authorities to grant more important contracts, of up to €2 million or 600,000 km, directly to SMEs employing between 50 and 250 people.
In addition, where public-procurement procedures are required, local authorities will have the right to award tenders based not only on price but also on certain social, environmental and quality standards.
Contracts will have to be concluded for a duration of three to 15 years for rail services and for up to ten years for coach and bus services.