European Tenders

European Tenders

To view the latest European tenders please visit the Government Tenders page.

European tenders are large scale contracts advertised across the European continent. Bidders can be from any country in the world, but must meet the criteria defined within the remits of the tendering process and within the regulations of European law. The ostensible aim of the tendering process is to promote fair competition in a free market, unhindered by protectionism and nationalistic sentiment. The total value of European tenders advertised each year is estimated to be 300 billion euros.


What are the Thresholds for European Tenders?

The thresholds for European tenders are defined on the following web page, which is updated whenever they are changed: (Simap is defined as ‘The Information system for European public procurement’).

Public works 5,000,000 EUR (4,012,683.99 GBP)

Service contracts 200,000 EUR (160,511.57 GBP)

Supplies contracts 200,000 EUR (160,511.57 GBP)

Supplies in the sectors of water, energy and transport 400,000 EUR (321,065.61 GBP)

Supplies in the telecommunications sector 750 000 EUR (601,998.01)

Contracts falling under the GATT agreements 130 000 EUR (104,353.45 GBP)



What are the Different Types of European Tenders?

A simple breakdown of the different types of European tenders:


Public works

Can include building or civil engineering works (eg construction contract, or highways resurfacing).


Service contracts

As it sounds, could be any contract for providing a service (eg advertising and marketing services, or security services)


Supplies contracts

Usually supply of products (eg pathology consumables, or computer software, or fruit and vegetables).


Supplies in the sectors of water, energy and transport

Utility and transport related supplies.


Supplies in the telecommunications sector

Telecoms supplies.


Contracts falling under the GATT agreements

The GATT acronym stands for General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It’s a multilateral agreement governing international trade, and is only applied to specific products and services. Will be mentioned in the tender document.



Different Notices for European tenders

Prior Information Notice

Will indicate that a tender is due to be advertised during the next twelve months. It therefore expresses a buying intention on the part of the advertising authority. May be used to ‘test the market’, to discover potential supplier interest with an outline of the solutions they provide.


Contract Notice

An official tender notification inviting expressions of interest. It is not a tender in itself, but an advertisement for a tender. The actual tender is in the form of Invitation To Tender documents, which may be available from the procurement contact whose name is on the advertisement. The Invitation To Tender documents are obtained by contacting the buyer by email or telephone. Sometimes they can downloaded online from a designated web page.


Contract Award

The Contract Award Notice must be published no later than 48 days after the tender has been awarded by the buying organisation. It provides contact details for the winning company, and usually the minimum and maximum prices put forward for the highest and lowest bids. MOD tender awards may contain a limited amount of information due to exemptions under European and British law (the justification being national security).



Different procedures for European tenders

Open Procedure

A tender that is open to competition from any organisation and to which any organisation can express an interest, without resort to pre-qualification.


Restricted Procedure

A procedure requiring pre-qualification in order for companies to be invited to tender. Companies must complete a pre-qualification questionnaire, which is then subject to assessment. Only those companies meeting set criteria can progress to the next stage – which is to be officially invited to tender. Invitation To Tender documents are dispatched, and must then be dealt with according to the standard tendering process.
Negotiated Procedure

Used in exceptional cases, when the buyer invites pre-qualified companies to negotiate the terms of the tender. Contract specifications are agreed on and the suppliers are judged by how far they meet the criteria of the specifications. It’s a process that requires input from potential bidders, and sometimes only involves very small numbers of companies. Often tried with complex European tenders in a small supplier marketplace.


Competitive Dialogue

A fairly recent procedure introduced in 2006 as an alternative to the Open and Restricted Procedures. Is applicable when the other two procedures are deemed inadequate or unsuitable for generating the best results. Offers a means by which buyer and supplier can discuss all aspects of the tender prior to the tender process and its award. Its main relevance is for extremely complex European tenders, in which both sides require some degree of education – the buyer to define the terms of the tender, and the supplier to assist with the terms and to suggest solutions tailored to the needs of those terms. Gives greater flexibility to the tendering process.



What size of organisation usually wins European tenders?

Small to medium sized companies are the types of organisations that usually win European tenders. National and international corporations obviously account for a large sector of the marketplace, but it’s a common misconception that they dominate it across the board.



Further information and Free Access to European Tenders

For free access to all UK government tenders please visit the Government Tenders page on Government Online. It includes low and medium level tenders, as well as European tenders.

For more information on the tendering process and guidance on actually bidding for tenders please see Government Online’s Tender Guidance document.

For official guidance from the European Union please visit Simap.




European tenders have a set procedure by which they are advertised and by which companies may seek to bid for business. Interested parties should not be put off by the technical jargon frequently used in relation to them, but should seek to understand the process, and learn the best ways to put in the most effective bids; our free Tender Guidance gives a quick but comprehensive overview by which it is possible to understand European tenders and integrate them into your company’s sales process.  To view the latest European tenders please visit the Government Tenders page.