Countries wanting to join the EU are required to align their legislation to EU rules, including those on public procurement. The EU and most candidate and potential candidate countries have already granted each other market access for public contracts through Stabilisation and Association Agreements.
The European Commission is responsible for monitoring that the regulatory procurement framework in these countries is properly implemented and that the appropriate institutions and administrative capacity have been put in place. The assessment of their progress can be found in ‘Chapter 5: Public procurement’ of the national progress reports.
More detailed reports on these countries public procurement systems is carried out by SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management), an EU and OECD joint initiative.
In June 2014, the EU granted candidate status to Albania. Candidate status represents an important step towards EU accession but it does not guarantee that the EU will automatically begin accession negotiations with Albania.
On 21 April 2015, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision concluding the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The SAA constitutes the framework of relations between the EU and BiH. It gradually establishes mutual access to the public procurement markets of the EU and BiH.
North Macedonia is a candidate country to the EU. The Commission proposed the opening of accession negotiations on 1 October 2009 but the Council of the European Union is yet to approve.
On 25 July 2014, chief negotiators from the EU and Kosovo initialed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the two sides in Brussels. The agreement needs to be approved by the European Council.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
After assessing Montenegro’s present state of preparations, the EU opened accession negotiations with it on the chapter concerning public procurement (Chapter 5) in December 2013. The chapter will be provisionally closed once Montenegro meets the benchmarks set by the EU.
In May 2014, the Commission concluded screening Serbia’s regulatory framework for public procurement. Based on the results of this screening, the Commission prepared a screening report which it submitted to the Council of the European Union. On 29 April 2015, the Council informed Serbia that the EU considered that Serbia was sufficiently prepared for negotiations on public procurement (Chapter 5) and invited Serbia to submit its negotiating position to the Accession Conference with a view to the opening of this chapter.
Turkey is an EU candidate country involved in accession negotiations. Chapter 5 on public procurement is not yet open. Apart from regular meetings and discussions in the framework of the enlargement process, the EU and Turkey have a regulatory dialogue on public procurement. (see the section below on bilateral relations).
The EU maintains a special relationship with 16 of its closest neighbours who are currently not considered potential candidates for joining the EU. Bilateral cooperation agreements between the EU and these countries include individually tailored clauses on public procurement. These clauses may involve:
On 27 June 2014, the EU signed Association Agreements, including for Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA) with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. While the ratification process in ongoing, some provisions of the agreements with Georgia and Moldova (including their DCFTA parts) have been provisionally applied since 1 September 2014. The provisional application of the agreement with Ukraine has been postponed until January 2016.
The public procurement chapters in all three agreements provide for the mutual opening of public procurement markets above certain thresholds and the gradual alignment of the three countries’ public procurement legislation with EU rules. This will be accompanied by an enhanced institutional framework and technical assistance from the EU.
Public procurement also plays a role in the EU’s relationship with its Southern neighbours who participate in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED). In this context, the Commission has already established regulatory cooperation on public procurement with Morocco, the first meeting of which took place in Brussels on 8 April 2014.