Doing business with the EPO

All invitations to tender and competitive procedure with negotiation are published internationally unless the nature of the contract or special circumstances justify making an exception where protecting the EPO's essential security interests cannot otherwise be guaranteed, for instance by imposing requirements to safeguard the confidential nature of information.

Wherever possible, procedures for placing and awarding contracts are conducted jointly for the EPO's locations in Munich, The Hague, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels.

Award procedures are carried out in accordance with the principles of transparency, equal treatment, open and fair competition, proportionality and non-discrimination, and contracts are placed in accordance with the principles of economy and sound financial management.

The EPO seeks to achieve high standards of integrity, inclusivity, transparency and stewardship in its supply chain. It wants to conduct business with responsible suppliers – companies that respect the rule of law and human rights, understand the nature and impact of the products, materials and production and transport methods they provide and use, and recognise their responsibility to protect the environment.

To view tender documents, suppliers must register with the EPO as a bidder in the eTendering system, either using an invitation code sent by EPO Central Procurement or as instructed in our step-by-step guide.

A qualified electronic signature is required for tender procedures, and bids/offers must be submitted online for tender and competitive procurement procedures published on eTendering.

Qualified electronic signature

A qualified electronic signature is an electronic signature that:

  • is uniquely linked to and capable of identifying the person signing
  • is created by means that the person signing can use with a high level of confidence and over which they have sole control
  • is associated with the electronic document to be authenticated in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable
  • is created by a qualified electronic signature device
  • is based on a qualified certificate meeting the requirements of the eIDAS Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC).

A qualified electronic signature fulfils the legal requirements for a signature with respect to data in electronic form in the same way that a handwritten signature does with respect to data on paper.

Bidders may use any qualified electronic signature based on a qualified certificate provided by a certification service provider accredited in accordance with Commission Implementing Decision 2013/662/EU of 14 October 2013 amending Decision 2009/767/EC as regards the establishment, maintenance and publication of trusted lists of certification service providers supervised/accredited by Member States.

Selection criteria

The selection criteria concern the reliability, financial and economic standing, as well as technical and professional competence of bidders. They may require minimum capacity levels and particular qualifications.

Bids are examined to check

  • they are complete
  • the signature on the bid is valid
  • the bid is in one of the EPO's official languages
  • the calculations are correct
  • the price is not clearly disproportionate
  • the technical content is correct and in line with the technical and functional requirements in the invitation to tender and competitive procedure with negotiation
  • the bid is based on the EPO's contractual conditions, unless the EPO has expressly requested or allowed the use of other terms of business.

For tenders where the contract is not awarded on the basis of price alone, the shortlisted bids may be evaluated against the award criteria, with the contract awarded to the most economically advantageous bid. The award criteria concern in particular the price, operating costs, technical merits, environmental and social sustainability aspects, delivery/completion dates, technical and financial guarantees offered and compliance with warranty requirements.

Where the price of the most economically advantageous bid submitted in response to an invitation to tender appears either to exceed the market price or to exaggerate effort or disproportionately high costing of risks, it may be negotiated with the respective bidder before any contract is awarded. Other aspects of the tender conditions or bid will remain unaffected by any such price negotiations.

Exclusion criteria

The EPO may exclude from the tender procedure any bidder who

  • is undergoing insolvency, bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings, has entered into a composition agreement with creditors, has ceased trading or is in any similar situation under the laws of the country in which they are domiciled
  • is the subject of a petition in bankruptcy, or an application for composition (or has themself filed such a petition or application), or any similar proceedings under the laws of the country in which they are domiciled
  • has been convicted of an offence that puts their professional reliability in question
  • has been found by the EPO to have been guilty of grave professional misconduct
  • has failed to fulfil their obligations with regard to payment of taxes and levies under the laws of the country in which they are domiciled
  • during the last three years has persistently failed to perform their obligations or has failed to perform one or more core obligations under one or more contracts concluded with the EPO leading to damages or other comparable sanction or to contract termination.

The EPO further requires compliance with all applicable national law relating to the protection of flora, fauna, and the environment; the conservation and protection of natural resources and the prevention and reduction of pollution and emissions.

Informing the bidders

As a rule, the reasons why a request to be invited or a bid has been unsuccessful will be given to the bidder only on written request and only in writing.

  • Candidates who, in response to a restricted invitation to tender with a published notice, have unsuccessfully requested an invitation to participate in the procedure are notified in writing that they will not be invited.
  • Unsuccessful bidders are notified in writing that their bid has not been selected.

The successful bidder is notified in writing before expiry of the period within which the contract must be awarded.

The procurement documents contain a description of the terms and conditions for the contract, the subject-matter of the procurement, the EPO's needs and objectives and any characteristics required of the supplies, works or services to be procured. The description may also include minimum levels of compliance.