Trading in the European Union

Tendering and outsourcing within the EU


Selling goods to new markets isn't the only way to begin trading within the European Union (EU). Many contracts in the EU are put out to tender - and businesses across the EU are equally entitled to compete to win these contracts.

Many of these contracts are in the public sector. The Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) website lists all contracts worth over £100,000. Search for EU contracts (registration required).

Lower value public sector contracts (typically less than £100,000) are listed on the websites contracts finder. Search for nationwide public sector contracts.

You can also use the services of private companies which charge a fee for assisting you to find contracts in the EU for which your business can submit a tender.

For private-sector contracts, useful sources of information include:

  • trade associations and professional bodies
  • business contacts in other EU countries
  • other UK businesses with interests in EU countries
  • advertisements in trade and professional magazines

Rules were introduced to simplify the public sector tendering process and ensure that public sector contracts are awarded fairly. See the rules that apply to all central government contracts.

Read more about how to tender for a contract. Or if you have problems when bidding for public procurements in other European countries, you can find help on procurement.


You might also want to consider outsourcing work to businesses in other EU countries. The basic principle of outsourcing is to contract business functions out to other companies if they can handle them more cost-effectively than you.

This happens frequently between UK businesses - for instance, many businesses outsource their payroll operations. Similarly, there may be work you can contract out to businesses in other EU countries.

For example, a UK manufacturing business might outsource the production of a key component to a specialist firm in Germany if they can produce it more quickly or at a lower price.