Art. 54. Framework agreements

1. Contracting authorities or entities may conclude framework agreements in accordance with the procedures provided for in this Code. The term of a framework agreement shall not exceed four years for contracts in the ordinary sectors and eight years for contracts in the special sectors, save in exceptional cases duly justified, in relation in particular to the subject of the framework agreement.

2. In ordinary sectors, contracts based on a framework agreement shall be awarded in accordance with the procedures laid down in this paragraph and in paragraphs 3 and 4. Those procedures may be applied only between those contracting authorities clearly identified in the call for competition or the invitation to confirm interest, and those economic operators party to the framework agreement as concluded. Contracts based on a framework agreement may under no circumstances entail substantial modifications to the terms laid down in that framework agreement, in particular in the case referred to in paragraph 3.

3. Where a framework agreement is concluded with a single economic operator, contracts shall be awarded within the limits of the terms laid down in the framework agreement. The contracting authority may consult in writing the economic operator part of the framework agreement, requesting it to supplement its offer as necessary.

4. Where a framework agreement is concluded with more than one economic operator, that framework agreement shall be performed in one of the following ways:

a) following the terms and conditions of the framework agreement, without reopening the competition, where the framework agreement sets out all the terms governing the provision of the works, services and supplies concerned, as well as the objective conditions for determining which of the economic operators, party to the framework agreement, shall perform the provision. Those conditions shall be indicated in the procurement documents for the framework agreement.

The identification of the economic operator party to the framework agreement which will perform the provision takes place on the basis of a justified decision in relation to the specific needs of the contracting authority;

b) where the framework agreement sets out all the terms governing the provision of the works, services and supplies concerned, partly without reopening of competition in accordance with point a) and partly with reopening of competition amongst the economic operators parties to the framework agreement in accordance with point c), where this possibility has been stipulated by the contracting authority in the procurement documents for the framework agreement. The choice of whether specific works, supplies or services shall be acquired following a reopening of competition or directly on the terms set out in the framework agreement shall be made pursuant to objective criteria, which shall be set out in the procurement documents for the framework agreement. These procurement documents shall also specify which terms may be subject to reopening of competition. The possibilities provided for under this letter shall also apply to any lot of a framework agreement for which all the terms governing the provision of the works, services and supplies concerned are set out in the framework agreement, even if all the terms governing the provision of the works, services and supplies concerned under other lots have been set out;

c) through reopening competition amongst the economic operators parties to the framework agreement, where not all the terms governing the provision of the works, services and supplies are laid down in the framework agreement.

5. The competitions referred to in paragraph 4, letters b) and c) shall be based on the same terms as applied for the award of the framework agreement and more precisely formulated terms, where appropriate, and on other terms referred to in the procurement documents for the framework agreement, in accordance with the following procedure:

a) for every contract to be awarded, contracting authorities shall consult in writing the economic operators capable of performing the contract;

b) the contracting authority shall fix a sufficient time limit to present tenders for each specific contract, taking into account factors such as the complexity of the subject-matter of the contract and the time needed to send in tenders;

c) tenders shall be submitted in writing, and their content shall not be opened until the stipulated time limit for presentation has expired;

d) the contracting authority shall award each contract to the tenderer that has submitted the best tender on the basis of the award criteria set out in the procurement documents for the framework agreement.

6. In special sectors, contracts based on a framework agreement are awarded on the basis of objective rules and criteria which may provide for the re-opening of competition between the economic operators part to the concluded framework agreement. Those rules and criteria shall be indicated in the procurement documents for the framework agreement and ensure equality of treatment between the economic operators part to the agreement. Where the reopening of competition is provided for, the contracting entity shall fix an adequate time limit in order to allow the presentation of tenders relating to each specific procurement and award each procurement to the tenderer which has presented the best offer on the basis of the award criteria et out in the specifications of the framework agreement. The contracting entity shall not make recourse to framework agreements in order to exclude the application of this decree or to prevent, limit or distort competition.