The new law “on transparency, control and competition in the procedures of adjudication of public contracts,” defined by way of synthesis “procurements code,” constitutes a new important manifestation of Pope Francis’ determination and, hence, of the Holy See, to be an active part of the International Community, also sharing and implementing the rules that in these years have inspired important reforms in various fields of the Vatican juridical order.
In this framework, as the Holy Father said last February 15, on the occasion of the opening of the judicial year, the Holy See “does its utmost to share the efforts of the International Community for the building of a just and honest coexistence and, above all, attentive to the conditions of the most disadvantaged and excluded,” creating also internal aids to legality, surveillance, and control.
Besides, it’s useless to repeat Francis’ commitment against corruption, which is the background theme of many of his interventions.
This, therefore, is the framework in which the new discipline is placed of public contracts of the Holy See and of Vatican City State.
The purposes that the new law establishes are indicated clearly in the Apostolic Letter that accompanies it.
1) To carry out notable economic savings as the result of a more ample and correct competition among the interested economic operators, who will be able to inscribe themselves in an apposite Register. It is worth remembering that the subject of the reduction of expenses is extremely topical and important at this moment, unfortunately, destined to last, of grave economic difficulties throughout the world but also, specifically, for the Holy See and Vatican City State, as recently underscored by the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves.
2) An efficient management of resources.
3) A renewed, determined commitment against the risk of corruption.
To attain these objectives the best rules and best practices are implemented, elaborated by the International Community, founded on principles of transparency and in favor of competition. Foreseen, moreover, is an articulated system of controls, also IT <controls>. Hence the new code of procurements — if we wish to use this expression –, is valid for both the Holy See and Vatican City State.
Naturally, the new law must reflect the principles proper of the Vatican order; therefore, Article 81provides for all contracts to be disciplined by Canon Law with a referral, in as much as not regulated expressly by the laws of the Vatican State.
The introduction of new rights and new obligations requires, of course, that there be a judge who can ensure their observance and regulate the conflicts between the parties. This competence, which can become very demanding, has been attributed to the Tribunal of the State in the first degree, with the possibility of proposing appeals to the Court of Appeal. Moreover, a new procedure has been introduced, different from that provided by the Civil Code in force, which can satisfy the specific exigencies posed by such a particular and important matter. Similar to what happens in Italy before the Tar [Regional Administrative Tribunal], the possibility is also foreseen of a precautionary measure of suspension of the contested acts, but rather brief times are dictated to avoid the danger of delays or the downright blocking of the execution of a contract.
The attribution of this new competence is a new manifestation of the Holy Father’s trust in the Vatican judges. I can assure that on our part there will be the greatest commitment to merit it.