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.
“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 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 and the indicators should be carefully interpreted, ideally in the light of additional quantitative and qualitative information.
Overall performance (all 12 indicators combined)
The colour thresholds are based on 2 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%|
EU Public procurement policy supports public investment to increase its impact on achieving growth and raising public welfare. It aims to help transform public procurement into a powerful and efficient tool to achieve significant policy objectives, especially the green and digital transition, a more resilient EU economy, strategic autonomy, and a level playing field.
Support the implementation of the 2014 directives
Support the use of public procurement as a tool for efficient recovery and the green transition. This means efficient procedures, better value for money, improved access to tenders for SMEs, public purchases being green and innovative, and taking into account social considerations.
Increase transparency, efficiency and accountability through better procurement data
Make better use of data to allow public buyers to take informed decisions providing high quality public goods and services, policy makers to plan procurement strategically, civil society to hold public entities to account.
An international level playing field and better access to non-EU procurement markets
Ensure access of EU companies to world-wide procurement markets, counter the distortive effects of foreign subsidies on the European procurement market, reduce strategic dependencies and strive for strategic autonomy, promote regulatory convergence.
The priorities are to:
- negotiate international agreements and encourage the reduction of red tape with key partners (e.g. China within the WTO/GPA and through regulatory dialogue; Australia, New Zealand, Mercosur, Chile and Indonesia through FTA negotiations);
- promote regulatory convergence, in particular with Brazil, India, Ukraine, Georgia and Africa;
- ensure consistency between our internal and external rules for public procurement (e.g. International Procurement Instrument proposal, GPA and FTA commitments).
Public procurement directives
All Member States have transposed the 2014 procurement directives. The Commission continued to ensure the compatibility of all transposition measures with the directives in cooperation with the Member States.
Negotiations with China, North Macedonia, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on joining the WTO’s revised Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) have continued. Brazil, as a first South American country, has sent its initial market access offer and the replies to the checklist of issues. The UK acceded to the GPA in its own right on the 1st of January 2021.
An agreement in principle was reached with Mercosur, while an agreement on the revised free trade agreement with Mexico was concluded. Progress was made on free trade negotiations with Chile and Indonesia.
Strategic Public procurement and access to procurement markets
Supporting public buyers throughout the EU with advice and assistance to further well-functioning, transparent, and fair procurement markets.
Creating networks of buyers to increase the uptake of innovation and sustainable procurement.
Cooperating to include mandatory green targets and criteria in sectorial initiatives.
Publishing a White Paper on the distortive effects of foreign subsidies proposing solutions to create a level playing field in procurement markets.
Progressing on opening worldwide procurement markets through negotiations with key partners and advancing the International Procurement Instrument proposal.
Supporting the position of EU companies at world public procurement market, including providing the guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market that provides practical advice and solution to public buyers.
Significant progress has been made in the field of digital procurement as a result of the current legal framework obligations. Furthermore, there has been a continuous evolution in the digitalisation of the public procurement life cycle that goes beyond these obligations.
This increase in digitalisation leads to an increase of available information, in particular structured data, which is fundamental to the governance of public procurement. Significant efforts have been made to improve the quality and quantity of data. The implementation of the new eforms, from next year, is a fundamental step in this direction.
Professionalistion of public buyers
Publishing ProcurCompEU - the European competency framework for public procurement professionals to assist public buyers to use the full potential of the procurement directives.
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.