How to apply for contracts

How to apply for contracts

The procedures related to applying for a contract vary according to both the type of contract you will be working with (services, supplies or works) and the value of the contract. The PRAG gives guidance on how to know which procedure will apply to you. The basic means of awarding all contracts is competitive tendering but within competitive tendering, there are different procedures available to use, each allowing a different degree of competition.

Although the actions and timeframes involved in applying for a contract vary according to the type of procedure, all contract applications involve some or all of the following steps:

Step 1. Prior Information Notice – the information notice consists of general information.

Step 2. Contract Notice - When the tender dossier is ready (and at the earliest 30 days after publication of the Prior Information Notice), the contract notice is published. The contract notice determines the scope of the contract, the type of contract, the maximum available budget and the type of the procedure (open or restricted) being used. It is important to pay attention to the deadline for submission of applications (restricted procedure) or tenders (open procedure). Under open procedures, the tender dossier is made available to tenderers at the same time as publication of the contract notice.

Step 3. Shortlist – In the case of the restricted tendering procedures (where the call is organised in two steps), a shortlist of selected candidates is drawn up after evaluation of the selection criteria. Only those shortlisted will be invited to tender.

Step 4. Invitation to tender – For the restricted procedure, the tender dossier, is sent to the shortlisted companies (usually, it is not published). For the open procedure, as stated above, the tender dossier is made available on publication of the contract notice (step 2).  The tender dossier contains - the instructions to tenderers (when and how to submit tenders); the terms of reference (what should be included in the tender and how it will be assessed (award criteria)); and the various administrative forms to be filled in.

Step 5. Evaluation – Tenders are evaluated by an Evaluation Committee which contains an odd number of voters.

Step 6. Contract Award – The Committee recommends either that the contract is granted to a successful tenderer or that the procedure is cancelled. The Contracting Authority then takes its decision, based on the committee's recommendation, to award the contract or cancel the procedure.

Step 7. Standstill period - The contract with the successful tenderer can only be signed after the expiry of the standstill period. The duration of the standstill period is 10 calendar days when using electronic means or 15 days when using other means, starting from the day following the date on which the notification to tenderers was sent. The obligation to respect a standstill period must only apply as from: (a) EUR 300 000 for service and supply contracts; (b) EUR 5 000 000 for works contracts.

Step 8. Contract Signature – The successful and unsuccessful tenderers are notified of the award decision. After the lapse of a standstill period, the contract is signed and the award notice is published.

For more information and details on the steps that apply to specific procedures, please see PRAG 2.6.

For more information about publication of the Notices on DG DEVCO website and in the EU’s Official Journal, please see the Publication Guide (Annex a11e of the PRAG).



  • The Practical Guide explains contracting procedures for EU external aid contracts financed by the EU general budget (Budget) and the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

    Consult PRAG

  • E-learning course on the Practical Guide. Do you want to know more about EU external action procedures? See our self-learning distance course on contractual procedures.

    e-Learning PRAG

  • e-Calls PROSPECT is the electronic system developed by EuropeAid to facilitate the submission of applications for call for proposals.

    e-Calls PROSPECT

  • Potential Applicant Data Online Registration database contains information on organisations applying for European Commission grants in the field of external assistance.

    e-Calls PADOR

  • Delegated Cooperation, Cooperation with partner countries and with international organisations, Co-financing and Management Modes.

    Consult DEVCO-Companion