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Let's take a closer look: performance in public procurement across the EU

10 July 2019

The European Commission published the annual report on Monitoring the Application of EU law, which outlines how the Commission monitored and enforced EU law in 2018. Part of the report is the online Single Market Scoreboard, which evaluates the performance of EU/EEA countries in the EU single market. Depending on their 2018 performance across the key policy areas, Member States were given 153 green, 137 yellow and 59 red cards indicating excellent (green), average (yellow) or below average (red) performance.

One of the key policy areas is public procurement. Taking a closer look at the analysis of procurement performance show the scoring of member states with regards to 12 indicators. For example, measuring the proportion of procurement procedures with more than one public buyer - meaning how often public buyers buy together. Buying in bulk often leads to better prices and offers an opportunity to exchange knowledge. Although not all types of purchase are suitable for joint procurement, excessively low rates suggest lost opportunities. ICLEI together with Eurocities runs the Big Buyers Initiative with the aim to boost collaboration between big public buyers towards more strategic public procurement. 


The scoring analysis also took into account the proportion of procedures awarded only on the basis of lowest price i.e. how public buyers choose the companies they award contracts to. In particular, whether they decide based on price alone, or if they also take quality into account. Award criteria offer a suitable entry point to leverage, for example, certain environmental standards. From the perspective of sustainable procurement or green procurement needs to and can change from the lowest price to the most economical advantageous price, which takes into account the full life-cycle costs. Find out more in ICLEI's Procura+ Manual.


An additional indicator focussed on how many contractors are small and medium-sized enterprises – SMEs. High percentages are desirable, in order to reflect their share in the economy, whereas low percentages could indicate barriers preventing smaller firms from participating in procurement procedures. A recent survey published by the Commission showed that 73,5% of PCP contracts are won by SMEs, emphasising that pre-commercial procurement and innovation procurement can help boost the performance under the SME indicator. ICLEI works on a variety of projects across Europe to accelerate the uptake of innovation in procurement such as Procure2Innovate. Find out more here.  

Get the full analysis of public procurement performance here.
Access the fact sheets per country here.