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Seven Keys to Understanding Pope’s New Motu Proprio on Public Contracts with Vatican

Parity of Treatment & Possibilities Will Be Guaranteed to Economic Operators

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Pope Francis published a new Motu Proprio on «transparency, control and competition, in the procedures of adjudication of public contracts of the Holy See and of Vatican City State,» today, June 1st, 2020.

It was published in a Holy See Press Office bulletin, and its text will be promulgated through its publication in L’Osservatore Romano and will come into force thirty days from today.

«The document,» a statement from the Holy See Press Office explained, «is the fruit of a coordinated synergic work of the Secretariat of State, among various entities of the Roman Curia, among them the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Governorate of Vatican City State.»

The unique code, it noted, «supersedes the regulation in force at present in some individual realities and is now applied to all the entities referring to the Holy See and to Vatican City State.»

Vatican News has highlighted some key aspects surrounding the 86-article legislation, intended to improve management of the resources and reduce the danger of corruption, and «is the fruit of four years of shared work among different Vatican entities.»

There are 12 additional articles regarding judicial protection in litigation cases.

The law assumes the United Nations Convention against corruption, signed at Merida, and substitutes the previous normatives now in force at APSA and at the Governorate extending also This detailed legislation, which is promulgated by a Motu Proprio of the Pope, to all the Holy See’s entities that, up to today, did not have their own laws for contracts and procurements.

The law especially works against conflicts of interest and notes reasons why certain agreements should be excluded.

Vatican News broke down the legislation into seven key elements:

KEY ONE: As a Good Father of a Family

«The general principle and of greatest respect, on the basis of which all administrators are held to attend to their functions,» Pope Francis expresses is“ the diligence of a good father of a family.»

«The possibilities of realizing economies thanks to the selection of multiple offers is decisive,” the Pope recognizes, “in the management of public goods, where the exigency is even more felt and urgent of a faithful and honest administration.”

The norms, states the Motu Proprio, serve “to foster transparency, control and competition in the procedures of adjudication of public contracts stipulated on behalf of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State.”

Parity of treatment and possibilities «to take part through an apposite Register and specific procedures,» it notes, will be guaranteed to economic operators that furnish goods, services, labours and works.»

TWO: The Object of the Normative

The first Article explains the objects of the new law that are: the sustainable use of internal funds, transparency of the procedures of adjudication, “parity of treatment and non discrimination of offers, in particular through measures able to oppose illicit agreements in the matter of competition and corruption.”
Fundamental Principles

Article 5 lists the fundamental principles, which are: “ethicality in the orientation of the economic choices and of the interlocutors in parameters of respect of the Social Doctrine of the Church; administrative autonomy and subsidiarity in the Entity’s management choices; loyal collaboration between the Entities and the different offices of the Governorate,” so as to obtain “cost saving, efficacy and efficiency,” “planning and rationalization of costs,” avoiding unnecessary operations and, in particular, a procedure of adjudication that “must be transparent, objective and impartial.”

THREE: No to Conflict of Interests

Measures are adopted against conflict of interests, illicit agreements in the matter of competition and corruption, so as to avoid “any distortion of the competition and guarantee parity of treatment among all the economic operators.”

FOUR: Motives for Exclusion

Economic operators will have to be excluded from inscription in the apposite Register and from participation in the competitions who in that moment are subject to investigations, to prevention measures or condemned in the first degree for “participation in a criminal organization, corruption, fraud, terrorist offenses, for “money laundering stemming from criminal activities” and “child labour exploitation.”

However, among the reasons for exclusion is also not having complied with “obligations regarding the payment of taxes or social security contributions according to the normatives of the country in which he is established,” as well as residing or being established in States “having privileged fiscal regimes.”

FIVE: Centralization

Except for some cases established as exceptions, “all goods and services, under pain of nullity of the relevant contract, are ordinarily acquired by entities in a centralized way. The “centralized authorities,” reads Article 15, are on one hand APSA “relatively to the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia” and to the institutions connected to the Holy See and on the other hand, the Governorate. Foreseen are exceptions to the centralization, but they will have to be duly motivated.

The Secretariat for the Economy, after hearing APSA, with joint procedure with the Governorate, will publish and update every six months “the list of prices and reference fees of goods and services” along with the cost of the work of professionals inscribed in the Register: they will be calculated taking into consideration the prices and fees in the markets in which the Vatican entities get their supplies. The Vatican entities will have to plan the acquisitions by October 31 of every year.

SIX: Vatican Dependents in the Adjudicating Commissions

Instituted in the Secretariat for the Economy is a list of dependents and of temporary authorized professionals to carry out the function of expert planner and of member of the selection commission. They will be drawn and participate in rotation in the Commissions, always on the basis of their specific professional qualifications.

Very detailed are the “incompatibilities” with the inscription on the list, among which is kinship “up to the fourth degree” or affinity “up to the second degree” of a subject referring to an economic operator that has presented an offer, and also of being a member or having been so in the five previous years of an economic operator that has presented an offer.

SEVEN: International Rules

While keeping in mind the fundamental principles and the ends of the canonical order, along with the peculiarity of Vatican City State, with the new unique code promulgated by Pope Francis, the most effective rules and the “good practices” are treasured in force in many States.


On the NET:

The Norms (Official Text – in Italian):

The Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio (Official Text – in Italian):

Related (Official Text – in Italian):

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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