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Giving UK and other EU firms a fair chance at state contracts worldwide – new Commission proposals
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85% of the EU public procurement market is open to non-EU companies, but less than a third of the US  and Japanese markets are open to EU firms. The European Commission today sets out plans to change that.

Often EU companies do not have access to worldwide markets because other countries reserve contracts for domestic companies. This is often the case in sectors where the EU is highly competitive, such as construction, public transport, medical devices, power generation and pharmaceuticals.

    Michel Barnier, European Commissioner

    Michel Barnier, European Commissioner

    So the Commission is proposing that European public bodies, for contracts above €5 million not covered by international agreements, should be able to exclude tenders including a significant proportion of foreign goods and services.

    In the event of repeated and serious discrimination against European suppliers in non-EU countries, the Commission will have at its disposal a mechanism allowing it to restrict access to the EU market, if the country outside the EU refuses to negotiate to put things right.

    The proposals also aim to tackle unfair competition by providing for additional scrutiny of abnormally cheap overseas offers for procurement contracts in the EU.

    Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services said: "The EU should no longer be naïve and should aim for fairness and reciprocity in world trade. We are open for business and we are ready to open up more, but only if companies can compete on an equal footing with their competitors. The Commission will remain vigilant in the defence of European interests and European companies and jobs."

    Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade, said: "This proposal will increase the EU's leverage in international negotiations to open up procurement markets for European companies. I am confident that they will then get a fair opportunity at winning government contracts overseas and so generate jobs."

    For more details, FAQs and draft legal texts please see here:


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.

    Last update: 21/03/2012  |Top