Competition for public contracts

Verified 15 December 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

Competing in public procurement can help you grow your revenue, as it can take months or years to complete. They can also help you gain experience with a recognized client.

Public contracts are contracts awarded by a public person (called a ‘public purchaser’) with a public or private person (called an ‘economic operator’) to meet its needs for works, supplies or services.

The public purchaser must comply with different procedures depending on the estimated value of the order and the nature of the contract: works, supplies or services.

The rules governing the advertising of contracts vary depending on the contract value and the category of public purchaser (contracting authority or contracting entity).

You can find procurement notices in different publication media:

  • OJEU: The Official Journal of the European Union is entitled to receive legal advertisements for European advertisements
  • Buyers' websites and platforms: Each public purchaser is required to publish its contracts on a dedicated internet platform called a ‘buyer profile’. It is accessible free of charge.

To better target the markets that interest you, you need to set up a watch according to your geographical area and your industry.You can also reference yourself on free sites to appear in supplier bases.

Public procurement projects can also be published on the consultation portal APProch This allows companies to view the Public Service Procurement Forecast.

View public procurement projects (APProch)

In a public procurement procedure, the principle is the freedom to apply.

The information contained in the contract notice (subject matter of the contract, time limit for submission of tenders, place of performance, etc.) is not always sufficient to select the interesting contracts.

The consultation documents (formerly the company Consultation Package or DCE) will allow you to decide whether to respond to a consultation.

They are made available free of charge by the public buyer on his buyer profile.

These documents shall make it possible to draw up the response to the contract, specifying the arrangements for the consultation and the expected technical specifications.

If you decide to answer, you need to prepare a response file containing all the information requested by the buyer. It always consists of two parts: one application and one offer.

To submit your application, it is possible to fill in either the form called “DUME” (Single European Market Document) or the declaration forms DC1, DC2 and possibly DC4.

The offer shall meet the need expressed by the public purchaser in the General Technical Clauses (GTC) (specification). She's compound a technical offer and a financial offer.

Where the contract is for an amount exceeding €40,000 HT: titleContent the answer must be delivered by electronic channel is mandatory for contracts. In this case, responses sent in paper format are inadmissible.

The e-mail response is optional below this threshold.

In the case of an electronic response, the format and size of the computer files transmitted must be taken into account.


You can access public procurement as a contractor, but also as a subcontractor. The holder of a public contract may subcontract part of the contract.

The subcontractor is not contractually linked to the buyer but to the contract holder. The latter shall remain responsible for the performance of the contract.

The supplier may declare the subcontract at the stage of submission of the tender.

Bundling: Co-contracting

It is possible to present its application as a temporary company grouping (GME) or cocontracting.

You may use co-contracting for several reasons: too large a market to respond on its own, lead times that cannot be met on its own, the need for additional skills or capacity, the need for specific labels or certifications for the market.

In this case, all the members of the grouping are in contact with the buyer and are responsible towards him.

The buyer evaluates your offer, your economic and financial capacity, and your technical and professional capabilities.

It shall select the most economically advantageous tender using objective, precise and non-discriminatory criteria. For example, a turnover of twice the amount of the contract may be required to apply for a public contract.

The applicant must be informed of the criteria used by the buyer to evaluate his offer. They are indicated in the consultation regulation (CR) or sometimes in the contract notice.

Please note

until 31 December 2023, the companies cannot be discounted because of a drop in turnover linked to the consequences of the health crisis in the study of their economic and financial capacity to perform a contract.

Buyer must inform unsuccessful candidates the choice of the successful tenderer. They may ask for explanations under conditions which depend on the type of procedure.

To get the contract paymentHowever, it is necessary for the buyer to observe its proper execution, which is referred to as the “service done”.

Once you have established that the service has been performed, you can send your invoice.

The buyer has a maximum time after receipt of the invoice to pay you. This delay varies depending on the type of customer:

  • 30 days for local and regional authorities and local public bodies, the State and its public bodies
  • 50 days for public health facilities and military health facilities
  • 60 days for public companies

When these deadlines are not met, financial penalties are automatically applied.

A derogation from the ‘service done’ rule exists for SMEs. Advances, i.e. the payment of part of the amount of a contract before performance of the services, are obligatory to be paid to SMEs holding contracts exceeding €50,000 HT: titleContent and whose duration of execution is greater than 2 months.

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