COS-PPOUT-2020-2-03: Public Procurement outside the EU

Public procurement, both inside and outside the EU, can generate considerable business for European SMEs, but many European companies are not yet taking full advantage of the opportunities available to them in non-EU countries. Access for European businesses to these non-EU public procurement markets was negotiated by the EU through the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) or via bilateral free trade agreements. According to the WTO Secretariat, the international business opportunities covered by the GPA amount to $1.7 trillion annually. 

Projects that help SMEs seize these opportunities can contribute to economic growth, as well as support the internationalisation of European companies and their global competitiveness. These goals are especially important in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

This call for proposals, the first of this kind, aims at improving SMEs’ access to public procurement in non-EU countries, with which the European Union has signed a bilateral or plurilateral agreement covering public procurement. Up to five projects will be selected, which will benefit from an EU grant of maximum EUR 400,000 covering 75% of the eligible costs. 


The main goal of this call for proposals is to contribute to the growth and the global competitiveness of target SMEs via strategic approaches that can support their internationalisation through public procurement outside the EU. 

Expected Results

The selected consortia will carry out a broad range of activities, such as creating awareness raising tools, providing overall training and advisory services, exchanging good practices, organising matchmaking, etc. 
Projects must be structured in two phases. 

  1. A preparatory phase to develop an internationalisation strategy through public procurement; and
  2. An implementation phase of the internationalisation strategy to gather data, promote the project and disseminate results.

Expected results of the Preparatory Phase: An internationalisation strategy and its implementation roadmap. Beneficiaries will deepen their knowledge of the identified target group of SMEs and of the potentially attractive sectors from a public procurement perspective in the target third countries. They will also identify the needs of SMEs and the specific measures to help them as well as the scope of the strategy.
Expected results of the Implementation Phase: Implementation of the internationalisation strategy. Beneficiaries will implement, and possibly test, some activities and further develop the internationalisation strategy. In addition, they will also develop an exit strategy for follow-up activities once the COSME co-financing period comes to an end. 

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must be legal entities forming a consortium composed by at least three partners from EU Member States and COSME participating countries. At least two partners of the consortium shall be from EU Member States. Natural persons are not eligible. 
Applicants have to be representing business support organisations (Chambers of Commerce, federations, etc.), cluster organisations, non-profit organisations (private or public), public bodies (national, regional, local), universities or educational institutions, research centres.

As some of the COSME participating countries are also members of the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) or signatory of bilateral or plurilateral trade agreements with the EU, they could potentially be at the same time part of the consortium and target third country. The countries falling into this category are: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine.
Therefore, to be eligible a consortium must meet the following conditions:

  • There must not be more than one partner from non-EU COSME participating country per consortium. 
  • The proposal must explain in detail the added value of such a situation and show a clear separation of activities and roles between the consortia members and the partner institutions contributing from the third country perspective.

For UK applicants: Please be aware that following the entry into force of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement on 1 February 2020 and in particular Articles 127(6), 137 and 138, the references to natural or legal persons residing or established in a Member State of the European Union are to be understood as including natural or legal persons residing or established in the United Kingdom. UK residents and entities are therefore eligible to participate under this call. 

Submission of Proposals

The deadline for electronic submission is 15 September 2020, 17:00h (Brussels time)

Please refer to the Call for Proposals and Guide for Applicants before commencing the electronic submission. The link to the submission system is available on the Funding and Tenders Opportunities Portal.


Potential applicants should address questions related to the content of this call by e-mail to: 
Only questions sent to this functional mailbox will be answered. Answers will only be published periodically and within a reasonable period of time on this page. Last questions to be answered are those submitted at least 7 days prior to the closing date of this call.

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