Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
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New guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market

The European Commission has issued guidance providing practical advice to public buyers in EU countries on how to deal with bidders from outside the EU.

It facilitates the understanding of some practical aspects of public procurement procedures in the EU when dealing with third country participation in tenders. It also aims to promote the principle that not only price, but also high European standards are taken into account in public procurement procedures. This will help public buyers ensure that all bidders, regardless of their origin, are treated equally and play by the same rules.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said:“All bidders – European or foreign – have to play by the same rules. Public buyers may use the flexibilities of the legal framework to set and enforce high social, environmental and other quality standards for all bidders, regardless of their origin. This creates a balance between them.”

The Commission has issued guidance as part of a package of initiatives to ensure fair competition, high quality and a level playing field in public procurement markets. It is the first deliverable of the 10 actions set out in the Communication on EU-China relations and supported by the European Council in its March 2019 conclusions. It further builds on the 2017 Communication  ‘Making Public Procurement work in and for Europe', which established a broad partnership with EU countries with the objective of enhancing the effectiveness of public procurement.

The EU has an open procurement market, the largest in the world with an annual value estimated at €2 trillion. In increasingly global markets, public buyers in the EU need to be equipped with the right tools and knowledge to deal with bidders from countries outside of the EU. The guidance on the participation of third country bidders provides practical advice to public buyers in EU countries. It helps them identify which third country bidders have secured access to the EU procurement market. The guidance further aims to raise awareness among contracting authorities of the different instruments in the EU public procurement toolbox. This includes measures that may be taken in case of abnormally low-priced offers, as well as measures to ensure that third country bidders respect the same quality as EU bidders in areas such as security, labour and environmental standards.

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