5 Types of Public Tendering Procedures in the European Union

Being in the European Union has its perks and public tendering is one of them. But there are a lot of rules and restrictions involved in public procurement and members must adhere to five specific procedures.

Sorting all the rules and procedures can be a daunting task but we streamline it to make it easier to follow. In this article, we explain the basic guidelines and the five procedures of public tendering.

What is Public Procurement?

In the EU, public bodies can buy work, goods, and services from private companies. This is public procurement.

Public bodies are central government departments, local authorities, universities, or any other body that fits the criteria the EU sets.

EU law on public procurements mandates public entities to open higher-value contract opportunities across the EU. There’s also a set of standards members must follow. The contracts are public tenders.

Rules and Restrictions of Public Tendering

The EU is very strict when it comes to public procurement. Authorities can’t discriminate against other EU members or business’s origins in any way. They must accept all supporting documents and have 100% transparency on the tender information.

The EU excludes businesses from public tenders if they’re bankrupt or they’ve suspended their activities. They’re also excluded if they’re found guilty of grave misconduct or haven’t paid taxes.

There are also times when a public tender isn’t open to bids. These exceptions include emergencies, when a specific company is the only one that can carry out a contract, and contracts excluded by law.


Public procurement is bound by monetary thresholds that vary based on many factors.

In general, central government authorities must open bids if the public tenders are worth more than EUR 144,000. For other public authorities, the amount is EUR 221,000.

If a public tender is below the thresholds, national rules apply and its tender contract doesn’t have to open up across the EU.

Five Procedures for Public Procurement

EU members must follow these types of procedures for public procurement unless there is an agreed upon exception.

Open Procedure

This procedure allows any business to submit a tender. Tender submission must be within 35 days from the publication date of the contract notice. The time limit may reduce to 15 days if a prior information notice was already published.

Restricted Procedure

A restricted procedure allows any business to ask for participation but only pre-selected businesses get invited to submit a tender.

  • Time limit from the contract notice’s publication date: 37 days to ask to take part.
  • The public authority selects at least five candidates, who have 40 days from the invitation date to submit a tender.
  • The time limit may reduce to 36 days if a prior information notice was already published.

Negotiated Procedure

A public authority invites at least three businesses to negotiate the contract terms in this procedure. A negotiated procedure is only used in limited cases, like supplies for research or testing purposes. In water, energy, transport, or postal services sectors, this can be a standard procedure.

  • Time limit from the contract notice’s publication date: 37 days to ask to take part.
  • In urgent cases, it’s reduced to 15 days.
  • If the public authority sends a notice electronically, the time limit can reduce to 10 days.

Competitive Dialogue

Complex contracts like large infrastructure projects use a competitive dialogue procedure. This gets used when public authorities don’t know the technical specifications at the onset.

  • Time limit from the contract notice’s publication date: 37 days to ask to take part.
  • The public authority invites at least three candidates to a dialogue where the final technical specifications get defined and discussed.
  • Candidates then submit their final tenders.

Electronic Auctions

Public bodies can award contracts by electronic auction after a full evaluation of initial tenders gets completed. Only accepted tenders take part in the electronic auction. The auction invitation must:

  • State the date and time of the auction.
  • The number of bidding rounds.
  • Disclose the formula that determines the automatic rankings.

In each bidding round, rankings must be transparent to allow proper comparison among bidders. The identity of the bidders isn’t disclosed.

Find Your Opportunity

There is a lot to learn about public procurement in the EU. If you’re interested in public tendering, BidsConstruction can help. We have more than 50,000 daily business opportunities to search in our database.

Check out our blog to learn more about procurement or visit our services page and find out how we can help you win competitive bids.

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