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New EU procurement rules: Better quality, value for money, simplification and benefits for SMEs

20 November 2015


New Directives on public procurement and concession contracts will enter into force on 18 April 2016.

This new EU-wide legal framework provides an opportunity to turn public procurement into a strategic policy instrument. They allow environmental and social considerations, as well as innovation aspects to be taken into account when awarding public contracts. Under the new rules, it will also be easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in public tenders. These companies have great potential to create jobs and drive innovation. In addtition, the rules on conflicts of interest and unlawful conduct will be strengthened to ensure the fair, equitable, transparent and non-discriminatory award of contracts. Finally, the new rules will simplify public procurement procedures and make them more flexible. Specifically:

  • public purchasers will be better able to negotiate the terms of contracts with companies to obtain products or services that best suits their needs.
  • the minimum deadlines for procedures will be shorter.
  • only the winning company will need to submit all the documentation that proves it qualifies for the contract.
  • a self-declaration of a company that it fulfils the award conditions will be sufficient to participate in a public tender procedure and will drastically reduce the volume of documents needed for selecting companies.
  • extended use of e-procurement tools and  more streamlined rules for sub-central authorities will lead to smarter and simpler administrative practices.

These new rules for public procurement allow for the best use of taxpayers' money by providing stronger guarantees for more rigorous procedures and greater potential for growth in the EU. They will benefit public authorities and economic operators, notably SMEs.

As the 17 April 2016 transposition deadline of the three new Directives is rapidly approaching, the European Commission is counting on EU countries to up their efforts to ensure a smooth transition to the new rules.


Every year, over 250 000 public authorities in the EU spend around 14% of European GDP on the purchase of services, works and supplies. In many sectors such as energy, transport, waste management, social protection and the provision of health or education services, public authorities are the principal buyers.

This is why the new EU public procurement and concession contracts rules have created high expectations, in particular with respect to their capacity to promote economic growth. Since the Directives are a key tool for ensuring that a large portion of public money is well spent, they will enable governments to deliver on their promises, inspire more confidence and also contribute to the creation of a more competitive and innovative environment for companies. For this reason, public procurement is one of the priorities in the 2015 Annual Growth Survey.

More information:

Simplification for tenderers

Simplification for public purchasers

Environmental and social aspects can be taken into account as well as innovation

Better transparency and corruption prevention

General overview of public procurement reform