Public contracts in the EU

How to bid for public sector contracts in Europe

If you are tendering across the European Union (EU), it is important that you understand the different markets and customers you are pitching to. You must also fully appreciate the intricacies of the EU procurement process.

Important: Access to the EU procurement market for UK businesses after Brexit is part of the current Brexit negotiations. For the latest information, see the government’s technical note on public sector procurement after Brexit.

Role of market research in your bidding strategy

Before you prepare and submit a tender bid, you should research the prospective market.

You will want to:

  • analyse your products and services to make sure they fit the market
  • evaluate your business' capabilities (eg language, logistics, etc) to work in the market
  • research market conditions, such as competition, currency, market share, etc
  • analyse the tender requirements and determine if they match your product or service
  • consider any additional costs you may incur (eg for accreditation, standards, etc)
  • consider any local and national laws that may apply, and how they differ from the UK

Carrying out thorough research should help you identify any potential issues or problems you may encounter.

ESPD self-declaration form

When bidding for contracts equal to or exceeding the EU thresholds, you must use the ESPD (European Single Procurement Document) online form to self-declare that you meet the selection and exclusion criteria of the tender.

The ESPD is a legal requirement throughout the EU. It removes the need for bidders to provide evidence with their bid. Only the winning bidders will be required to provide proof at a later stage in the process.

Find out more about the ESPD self-declaration.

Writing a tender application for EU contract

When writing a tender, make sure that every detail is correct - you may be required to complete the work exactly as submitted.

When writing a tender you should:

  • write clearly - do not include any ambiguous or vague terms
  • register your interest - ie explain why you are interested in the work and why your business is well suited to carry it out
  • indicate costs and timeframe clearly - be clear about what you will provide when and how much it will cost

If your research has indicated any country-specific requirements or special demands from the customer, you should demonstrate your understanding of these and your ability to meet them.

Non-disclosure agreements in tender applications

If you include confidential information in your bid, you should consider using a non-disclosure agreement to protect your interests.

Problems in the EU tendering process

If you have any problems when tendering for work in another EU country, the UK SOLVIT centre can provide support and advice.