Request for a preliminary ruling from the Rayonen sad Lukovit (Bulgaria) lodged on 26 March 2021 – LB v Smetna palata na Republika Bulgaria

(Case C-195/21)

Language of the case: Bulgarian

Referring court

Rayonen sad Lukovit

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicant: LB

Defendant: Smetna palata na Republika Bulgaria

Questions referred

Must Article 58(4) of Directive 2014/24/EU 1 be interpreted as meaning that the requirements imposed by the selection criteria on the professional ability of the staff of economic operators in respect of a specialised contract in the construction sector may be stricter than the minimum requirements for training and professional qualifications laid down by the specific national law (Article 163a(4) of the ZUT) without being a priori restrictive of competition, and, more specifically, does the prescribed condition of ‘proportionality’ of the participation requirements imposed in relation to the subject matter of the contract a) require the national court to carry out an assessment of proportionality on the basis of the evidence gathered and the specific parameters of the contract, even in cases where the national law defines a large number of professionals who are in principle qualified to carry out the activities under the contract, or b) permit judicial review to be limited only to an examination of whether the participation requirements are too restrictive in relation to those provided for in principle in the specific national law?

Must the provisions of Title II ‘Administrative measures and penalties’ of Regulation No 2988/95 2 be interpreted as meaning that the same infringement of the Zakon za obshtestvenite porachki (Law on public procurement) transposing Directive 2014/24/EU (including the infringement in the determination of the selection criteria for which the complainant was penalised) may give rise to different legal consequences depending on whether the infringement was committed without fault or intentionally or was caused by negligence?

Do the principles of legal certainty and effectiveness, having regard to the objective of Article 8(3) of Regulation No 2988/95 and recitals 43 and 122 to Regulation No 1303/13, 3 permit the various national authorities called on to protect the financial interests of the European Union to assess the same facts differently in the procurement procedure, in that, more specifically, the managing authority of the operational programme finds no infringement in the determination of the selection criteria, whereas the Chamber of Audit, upon subsequent control and without there being any special or new circumstances, finds that those criteria are restrictive of competition and imposes an administrative penalty on the contracting authority on account of that finding?

Does the principle of proportionality preclude a provision of national law, such as that in Article 247(1) of the Law on public procurement, which provides that a contracting authority which formally infringes the prohibition laid down in Article 2(2) of that law is to be punished by way of a pecuniary penalty of 2% of the value of the contract, including VAT, but not exceeding 10 000 leva (BGN), without it being necessary to establish the seriousness of the infringement and its actual or potential impact on the interests of the European Union?

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1 Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC (OJ 2014 L 94, p. 65).

2 Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities financial interests (OJ 1995 L 312, p. 1).

3 Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (OJ 2013 L 347, p. 320).