ACA Seminar “Recent case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and of the (Supreme) Administrative Courts in public procurement litigation”, Helsinki, October 22-23, 2015

Welcome and opening speech of President Pekka Vihervuori

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished colleagues

I have the honour and the pleasure to wish you all warmly welcome to the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland and to this ACA seminar, titled “Recent case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and of the (Supreme) Administrative Courts in public procurement litigation”. This is the first time this court is hosting a common ACA event since the 18th colloquium in Helsinki in May 2002, titled "Preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Communities". Evidently it was now high time, so to speak.

Due to our weather conditions here, Octobers are normally not among the best seasons for visiting Finland. This autumn, however, we have had weeks of bright and sunny days in an exceptional row. Today, sorry to say, there seems to be no sunshine outside. But here inside we are all sunny-minded, of course.

Maybe I should not mention this, but from the viewpoint of Finnish administrative courts and the problems presently challenging them it is quite refreshing to be able to for a while concentrate on a field of law totally different from immigration law. Why so? Right now, Finland seems to become the final destination of tens of thousands of refugees and immigrants from the Middle East. This sudden and in many ways unhappy development is going to compel our legislators to swift reforms and extensive new allocation of resources, not only in the competent administrative bodies, but inevitably also in the appellate administrative courts and the procedures before them. Nevertheless, at the same time the incoming court cases in all other categories of law alike should be properly and effectively taken care of. The planning and preparations for the year 2016 are going to be extremely interesting, to put it mildly.

But now, let us set all such things aside. Today and tomorrow we will have a unique opportunity to discuss the topical legal aspects of European public procurement law. In addition to discussions on several union-wide legal questions and the important case-law, we will be able to exchange experiences regarding the more or less different solutions and outcomes in our national judicial structures and jurisdictions. What could have been a more suitable common framework for this than the cooperation within the ACA? Although the national judicial structures in the procurement sector vary, the member and observer courts of the ACA are often strongly involved. I am convinced that the contributions by the national jurisdictions to the questionnaire will provide us, and also others, with a valuable combination of new information.

Right now, the member states are in the middle of a legislative transition period. From 18 April 2016, the still valid old EU procurement directives will be replaced by three new ones, that is Directive 2014/23/EU on the award of concession contracts, Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement, and Directive 2014/25/EU on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors.

These new regulatory frameworks aim to simplify public procurement procedures and make them more flexible. This is alleged to benefit public purchasers and businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, while public procurement is becoming a policy strategy instrument. The new rules also aim to help public purchasers to implement environmental policies, as well as those governing social integration and innovation.

Not everything will be reformed due to this effort, however, especially not the basic functions of the different national jurisdictions. Hence much of what will be said and heard here today and tomorrow regarding the past and the present will probably be relevant also in the future. Of course the probable reform of the present remedies directives will have its impacts.

We appreciate very much the contribution by all the speakers and the professional support by the ACA. The financial support of the European Union has been extremely valuable. There is all reason to wish and to believe that a stable status has been achieved in this respect also more generally. To be honest, it has appeared to be a kind of problem that public law and public law institutions, in spite of their crucial role in the implementation of EU legislation, have not been formally recognized in the shaping of the institutional structures of the union bodies, at least not in the same manner as civil law has.

During the seminar we are going to have three round table sets of very interesting presentations and discussions. But before the first of them, Dr. Niilo Jääskinen shall have the floor. He has quite recently finished his period as Advocate General in the European Court of Justice, and is right now preparing to re-enter his position as one of our justices here in the Supreme Administrative Court. Justice Jääskinen will focus on the recent case law of the EUCJ on the judicial protection at the national level in the field of public procurement. After the break, another colleague of mine, Justice Alice Guimaraes-Purokoski is going to moderate the first round table.

Once again, welcome all! Let´s make a successful seminar together.

Julkaistu 23.10.2015