The procedures for Public Procurement in the EU can seem a daunting task with many rules and regulations which require potential businesses and contracting authorities to abide by. EU Public Procurement is the method in which national government, public authorities or other public agencies purchase goods, services or commission work from potential contractors or service providers. The aim of EU procurement is to achieve an internal market in public procurement and these derive from the Treaty of the European Union as well as from Procurement Directives.
The benefit for liberalising the public procurement market is that it encourages free trade, on the basis that it makes an important contribution to economic growth. The European Commission estimate that public procurement account for approximately 16% of the EC's gross domestic product (GDP). The publication of public procurement opportunities are published in the Official Journal of the European Union (also referred to as the OJEU) with some public contracts being regulated by two European Directives.
These European Directives regulate contracts related to public works, supply and service contracts (Directive 2004/17/EC) as well as regulate contracting authorities associated with water, energy, transport and postal services (Directive 2004/18/EC). The directives cover public contracts that are above a certain threshold. Further information regarding the 2010 Thresholds (Regulation (EC) 1177/2009) is available.
Notices are required to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union should contracts for works, supply or services are above the following threshold:
Under the Public Sector Directive, contracting authorities must generally advertise contracts by an EU wide advertisement in the OJEU. Contract notices, usually referred to as an "Invitation to Tender", and is sent by contracting authorities in a standard form. Information that must be contained in the notice contains contact details of the contracting authority, a description of the contract and the time for delivery or performance. A standard 'Invitation to Tender' is available to view for further reference.
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The opening up of public procurement within the Internal Market has increased cross-border competition and improved prices paid by public authorities. There remains potential for significant further competition in procurement markets and for further savings for taxpayers.
SOLVIT: EU Member States work together to solve problems caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities. The UK SOLVIT Centre can help with handling complaints from businesses. It is committed to providing real solutions to problems within ten weeks. Using SOLVIT is free of charge. The European Commission coordinates the network, which is operated by the Member States, the European Commission provides the database facilities and, when needed, helps to speed up the resolution of problems. The Commission also passes formal complaints it receives on to SOLVIT if there is a good chance that the problem can be solved without legal action.