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Public Procurement

Every year, over 250 000 public authorities in the EU spend around 14% of GDP on the purchase of services, works and supplies. In many sectors such as energy, transport, waste management, social protection and the provision of health or education services, public authorities are the principal buyers. Public procurement refers to the process by which public authorities, such as government departments or local authorities, purchase work, goods or services from companies. Examples include the building of a state school, purchasing furniture for a public prosecutor's office and contracting cleaning services for a public university.

To create a level playing field for all businesses across Europe, EU law sets out minimum harmonised public procurement rules. These rules organise the way public authorities and certain public utility operators purchase goods, works and services. They are transposed into national legislation and apply to tenders whose monetary value exceeds a certain amount. For tenders of lower value, national rules apply. Nevertheless, these national rules also have to respect the general principles of EU law.

This website provides information on European public procurement policies drawn-up by the European Commission. A general introduction to public procurement can also be found on Your Europe. For practical information, for instance on current business opportunities (Tenders Electronic Daily) or on how to upload calls for tenders, please visit the Publication Office’s SIMAP website.

Public procurement strategy

Transparent, fair and competitive public procurement across the EU’s Single Market generates business opportunities, drives economic growth and creates jobs. By rethinking the entire approach to purchasing, professionalising public buyers, cutting red-tape, and capitalising on the benefits of the digital revolution, public administrations can be made more efficient, more effective, and more citizen and business-friendly. Improved governance, the simplification of procedures and the greater use of electronic tools in public procurement are also important tools for fighting fraud and corruption.

Finally, as the biggest single spender in the EU, the public sector should use procurement strategically to drive key EU2020 horizontal policies such as those aimed at creating a more innovative, greener, and more socially-inclusive economy.

The section on public procurement strategy focuses on the overall strategy the European Commission is developing for ensuring that public procurement in the EU is efficient and beneficial to society.

Legal rules, implementation and enforcement

EU directives on public procurement cover tenders that are expected to be worth more than a given threshold.  The core principles of these directives are transparency, equal treatment, open competition, and sound procedural management. They are designed to achieve a procurement market that is competitive, open, and well regulated. This is essential for putting public funds to good use.

The section on legal rules, implementation and enforcement covers current public procurement rules, upcoming modernised rules entering into force in 2016, and the monitoring and enforcement of rules including the possibility to file a complaint.

E-procurement

E-procurement refers to the use of electronic communications by public sector organisations when buying supplies and services or tendering public works. Increasing the use of e-procurement in Europe can generate significant savings for European taxpayers. These savings would maximise the efficiency of public spending in the current context of fiscal constraints. E-procurement can also provide a new source of economic growth and jobs, including by facilitating access to public procurement contracts by small and medium-sized enterprises.

The section on e-procurement contains information about the EU’s e-procurement strategy and links to various electronic tools.

International public procurement

Accounting for 15-20% of global GDP, public procurement represents a substantial portion of the EU economy and the economies of many countries around the world. Public procurement commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Public Procurement (GPA) have been estimated at around EUR 1.3 trillion.

However, in contrast to the EU policy favouring greater openness, many non-EU countries are reluctant to open their public procurement markets to international competition. The EU advocates open international public procurement markets for certain goods and services, and works to help EU companies get access to global public procurement markets.

The EU also collaborates with EU candidate countries and potential candidates to ensure that their public procurement sectors are compatible with EU rules, and negotiates with other countries in the framework of trade negotiations. It holds regulatory dialogues with countries having important public procurement sectors as well.

The section on international public procurement provides information on GPA and free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, the International Procurement Instrument, and cooperation with enlargement and neighborhood countries.

Studies, data and expert groups

This section has studies, data and expert groups related to public procurement that have been commissioned or organised by the European Comission.

Information on European countries

The section on information on EU countries includes Single Market Scoreboard monitoring and the implementation of EU public procurement rules in EU countries, as well as links to national public procurement websites and national public procurement strategies.