As many involved in the infrastructure sector will know, on 29 September 2016 the European PPP Expertise Centre of the European Investment Bank and Eurostat published “A Guide to the Statistical Treatment of PPPs”. 

The Guide was produced to assist those procuring PPP projects better understand how the rules used by Eurostat for assessing the statistical treatment of PPP arrangements are applied and therefore whether a project will be considered to be "on" or "off" the government balance sheet.

This is significant as the treatment will have consequences for government debt and deficit figures and affect the procurement decision. 

No doubt some will be disappointed by the restrictions in the Guide on a procuring authority’s ability to limit the return of the private sector in projects paid for out of the public purse and on the influence which a procuring authority can have in a project.

However, publication of the Guide paves the way for the procurement of additional infrastructure at a time when investment in infrastructure is being pushed as a response to the uncertainty in the economy in post-Brexit vote Britain and indeed the Guide acknowledges the role of PPPs in economic recovery.

The Guide does, of course, examine typical structures in PPP arrangements in the EU and it will be interesting to see what the overall approach to the transfer of risk set out in the Guide means for the negotiation of project specific matters and any derogation process.

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