Tenders in the EU

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Public procurement of goods, works and services represents 16% of the Gross Domestic Product of the European Union. The opening-up of public procurement at European level has made it possible to increase the presence of companies from Member States other than the public administration calling for tenders. This increase in competition is therefore a significant saving for public sector buyers.

Through tenders, public contracts of medium and higher value are awarded for the acquisition of services, supplies or civil engineering works. Within the public tender, there are different types of procedures, such as the open procedure, a restricted procedure for a number of shortlisted candidates, a negotiated procedure, a competitive dialogue, an innovation partnership, or a project contest to get an idea for a project.

In general, public procurement procedures in the EU are conducted on the basis of national rules (always respecting the EU’s general principles on transparency and equal treatment). However, when contracts are of a higher value, the general EU rules on public procurement apply. The main value limits of Directive 2014/24/UE set at 1 January 2020 are as follows:

  • 139,000 euros for supply and service contracts.
  • 5 350 000 euros for works contracts.

Thus, tenders resulting in contracts exceeding this amount are set out in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU, Series S), but there are also online portals in which all European public procurement notices are published:

  • TED ( Tenders Electronic Daily). It is the online version of the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union, in which administrations publish more than 500,000 tender announcements a year that exceed the established values. It is available free of charge in the 24 official languages of the EU and is updated daily from Monday to Friday and, in urgent cases, also on public holidays. You can access a guide on how to use the portal through this link.
  • SEDIA (Single Electronic Data Interchange Area). This platform includes funding programs managed by the European Commission and other EU bodies that often publish their own tenders. For tenders under EU External Action, the European Commission makes the PRAG guide available.