Public procurement is the process by which public authorities, such as government departments or local authorities, purchase works, goods or services from companies. Public procurement accounts for about 14% of the EU’s GDP. It is regulated by law to maximise value for money for the public sector and ensure compliance with three key principles:
- equal treatment
Public procurement and the single market – why does it matter?
To create a level playing field for businesses across Europe, EU law sets out minimum harmonised public procurement rules. These govern the way public authorities and certain public utility operators purchase goods, works and services. The European Commission’s public procurement strategy is designed to improve EU public procurement practices in a collaborative manner by working with public authorities and other stakeholders.
Overall the public procurement indicators suggest a stable situation at EU level, with slight improvement in areas such as single bids and direct awards.
The number of tenders published continues to increase, albeit more slowly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the UK's withdrawal from the EU has resulted in a significant fall in the number of large procurements (in 2020 the UK accounted for 60% of EU awards of more than 100 million euro).
The publication rate of public procurements in terms of GDP continues to increase for most of the EU, with decreases in only a small minority of countries. In 2020, for the first time there was no EU country with a publication rate below 2%, but there are still opportunities for further increases based on the comparison with the EU average.
In 2021, the share of public procurement tenders with single bidder slightly decreased, breaking the continuous upward trend of recent years. There are still several countries (14) with a level higher than the EU average, which shows there is room for improvement in the coming years. The same situation applies in the case of another important indicator, the share of direct awards (“No calls for bids”).
There were significant improvements in the three indicators relating to data quality (“Missing calls for bids”/”Missing seller registration numbers”/”Missing buyer registration numbers”), but as with all indicators there is also still room for improvement.
“Performance” measures whether purchasers get good value for money. The indicators below measure key influences on public procurement performance in a way that is transparent and easy to understand and compare.
Like all indicators, however, they simplify reality. They are affected by country-specific factors such as what is actually being bought, the structure of the economies concerned, and the relationships between different tendering options, none of which are taken into account. In some cases, a large number of tenders below EU thresholds are published in Tenders Electronic Daily (TED). This publication is voluntary and considered a good practice, as it increases transparency for a significant part of the procurement not covered by the EU rules (for tenders below the EU thresholds, national rules apply, which nevertheless must respect the general principles of EU law).
Moreover, some aspects of public procurement have been omitted entirely or covered only indirectly, e.g. corruption, the administrative burden and professionalism. Although the scoreboard provides useful information, it gives only a partial view of EU countries’ public procurement performance. As a result, the indicators should be interpreted carefully, ideally in the light of additional quantitative and qualitative information.
The colour thresholds are based on two factors:
- qualitative policy judgment on what constitutes good practice
- recent data for individual countries.
| Single bidder||≤ 10%||> 20%|
| No calls for bids||≤ 5%||≥ 10%|
| Publication rate||> 5%||< 2.5%|
| Cooperative procurement||≥ 10%||< 10%|
| Award criteria||≤ 80%||> 80%|
| Decision speed||≤ 120 days||> 120 days|
| SME contractors||> 60%||< 45%|
| SME bids||> 80%||< 60%|
| Procedures divided into lots||> 40%||< 25%|
| Missing calls for bids||≤ 3%||> 3%|
| Missing seller registration numbers||≤ 3%||> 3%|
| Missing buyer registration numbers||≤ 3%||> 3%|
More information on public procurement
The indicators show how different EU countries are performing on key aspects of public procurement.
Although the picture they give is rather simplified, they nonetheless highlight basic aspects of countries’ procurement markets.
For more detailed information on public procurement, see: EU public procurement.
For general information on public procurement, see Your Europe.
eCertis is an online database that lists eligibility criteria and documentary evidence. Both are needed in each European Economic Area (EEA) country for companies to take part in public procurement. eCertis is a useful tool for EEA-based companies wishing to participate in public procurement and for public buyers evaluating bids received from various EEA countries.
eCertis in a nutshell
• Due to a restructuring of eCertis, encoded data was adjusted and simplified to support multiple domains. This led to an increase in the number of items in the service, which now contains a total of 2 156 records (criteria, items of evidence, and issuing bodies). This is a 2.9% increase from last year, where the number stood at 2 095. 1 209 criteria (a 6% increase on last year) and 661 items of evidence (a 1.8% decrease from last year) were listed on eCertis on 10 November 2022.
• The system contains information on 286 bodies that issue certificates, meaning that 5 more issuers were registered in 2022
• There were 12 789 unique visitors in the last quarter of 2021, an increase of 14.4% from last year
• 14% of evidence is accessible online
• A sample is available for 25% of the items of evidence listed in the system.
Disclaimer: eCertis is managed by the Commission. Participating countries are obligated to make sure the information in it is accurate and up to date. It is for reference purposes only and is not legally binding. It shows what evidence is required to fulfil a criterion. For example, how can a supplier show a country A that it has paid taxes in country B.
eCertis and the single market - why does it matter?
• suppliers (tenderers) identify what proof they need to submit when they are awarded a contract in an EEA country
• contracting authorities (buyers) in EEA countries understand which documents they can accept or they need to ask tenderers to provide.
The Commission aims to support both suppliers and buyers in the field of public procurement by making all needed information regarding grounds for exclusion and selection criteria available through a single service. Accessible information is needed to help make the single market a reality.
According to the eCertis indicators below, the availability of data provided by the EU countries remained stable between 2021 and 2022. Overall, most countries show a positive trend in terms of criteria completeness and evidence recorded, especially on grounds for exclusion. Nevertheless, there are differences between countries in the number of pieces of evidence made available, the type of evidence, their accessibility online, the price to access them and the provision of a sample or not.
The data below covers the period from 1/2021 to 10/11/2022.
The final classification takes into account the “total” score for each indicator (last row of each table) and is calculated as follows:
|Red||Both sub indicators are red|
|Green||If both sub indictors are green or if there is a mix between green and yellow|
Categories of criteria
Data are collected in three categories of “grounds for exclusion” (EG):
- criminal convictions (CC): contracting authorities may exclude a supplier (economic operator) from participation in a procurement procedure if it has participated in a criminal organisation
- non-payment of taxes and social security contributions (PT): contracting authorities may exclude an economic operator from participation in a procurement procedure if it is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions
- insolvency, conflict of interests or professional misconduct (INS): contracting authorities may exclude an economic operator from participation in a procurement procedure if it is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up proceedings, guilty of grave professional misconduct or a conflict of interest.
… and four categories of “selection criteria” (SC):
- economic and financial standing (EF): contracting authorities may impose requirements ensuring that economic operators possess the necessary economic and financial capacity to perform the contract
- quality assurance schemes and environmental management standards (QA): contracting authorities may require economic operators to demonstrate that they have such schemes and standards in place
- suitability to pursue the professional activity concerned (ST): contracting authorities may require economic operators to be enrolled in one of the professional or trade registers kept in their country of establishment or to comply with any other request set out in that Annex XI of Directive 2014/24/EU
- technical and professional ability (TP): contracting authorities may impose requirements ensuring that economic operators possess the necessary human and technical resources and experience to perform the contract to an appropriate quality standard.
Indicator : Criteria Completeness
The graph shows the percentage of criteria set at EU level that have been recorded in eCertis for each country. Higher scores show countries have entered more data in the eCertis database.
|Red||≤ 0 %|
|Yellow||> 0 %, ≤ 50 %|
|Green||> 50 %|
Indicator : Evidence recorded
This indicator groups the countries that use eCertis by type of criterion based on the number of items of evidence recorded in the system.
If the country has not entered any evidence data, the indicator is red. If it has entered more than one item of evidence, the indicator is green.
The final classification considers the “total” score for each table (last row of each table) and is calculated as follows:
|Red||All criteria are red|
|Yellow||A mixture of red and green values
Red: min 1, max 3 (for exclusion grounds) or 4 (for selection criteria)
|Green||All criteria are green|