Procurement procedures

EPO tenders may use different procedures depending on factors such as the nature of the goods, services being procured, time to market and their value, among others. The types of tender procedures and their key features are outlined below. In general, contracts with a value not exceeding EUR 15 000 can be awarded without any publication. Competitive direct placements apply only to contracts with a value between EUR 15 000 and EUR 200 000.

What is a competitive procedure?

A competitive procedure is a procurement exercise involving multiple bidders/offerors. The EPO publish/advertise the demand (open tender procedure) or invite selected vendors to participate (competitive direct placement). The EPO will evaluate the offers and award the contract based on either price or a combination of price and other factors (discretionary basis, such as quality, service, timeliness, etc…).

Open type of procedures are preferred at the EPO. Progressively restrictive procedures such as restricted tenders (with or without publication), competitive direct placements and direct placements require special justification, which are audited and reported separately and must fulfil the relevant conditions set out in the tender documents.

 Type  Name  Value


Open tender

(no threshold)

Restricted tender with publication
Competitive procedure with negotiation


Competitive direct placement EUR 15 000 - EUR 200 000
Restricted tender without publication (no threshold)
Types of award procedure

Open tender: invitations to tender are published in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union (Tenders Electronic Daily - TED) and on the EPO's Procurement web page. Any interested suppliers may respond to the advertised tender.

Restricted tender: eligible suppliers that satisfy the selection criteria set out in the published notice are invited by Central Procurement to submit a bid for a contract.

Invitations to tender, be they open or restricted, are published in all EPC contracting states and also, where appropriate, in non-contracting states. However, publication of restricted invitations to tender may be dispensed with where this would harm the interests of the Organisation owing to the nature of the goods, services or work concerned.

Competitive procedure with negotiation: the process of selecting suitable suppliers begins after publication of the call for competition on the EPO's Procurement web page in order to lay down the scope of negotiation. Only bidders selected as qualified to perform the contract are invited to participate in the competitive procedure with negotiation.

Competitive procedure with negotiation: contracts may be awarded in a competitive procedure with negotiation following a call for competition where the solutions required to satisfy the EPO's needs and objectives are technically too complex to be sufficiently defined in an open or restricted invitation to tender. The call for competition will lay down the scope of the negotiation. This scope must not be extended subsequently.

Competitive procurement procedures requiring justification
a. Restricted tender without publication (when the security risk is high)
b. Competitive direct placement

Exceptional procurements
a. Competitive procedure with negotiation (due to technical complexity, lack of detailed specification and comparability issues)
b. Direct placement
c. Dynamic purchasing system

Basic principles when awarding public contracts

a. Only one bid per supplier (multiple bids are allowed in certain situations)
b. Confidential treatment of bids and bidder identities

Equal treatment/non-discrimination
a. All bidders are treated equally – non-discrimination and neutrality required
b. Any information (or lack thereof) likely to harm competition is disregarded
c. Only complete bids qualify for equal treatment
d. Those evaluating bids will act impartially

a. Tender notice/procurement documents specify suitability and award criteria
b. Decisions taken in tender procedures are documented

The EPO ensures that the procurement process complies with the Organisation's Financial Regulations and Tender Guidelines, and that procurement procedures are conducted in a professional, correct, fair, timely and transparent manner. EPO procurement procedures are governed by the following principles:

  • Integrity – competitions are conducted fairly and transparently following basic best practices
  • Cost-effectiveness – excellent value for money
  • Ethics – procurement procedures and procurement-related activities adhere to ethical business practices
  • Environmental and social sustainability – sustainability aspects are now included in bid assessment criteria
  • Impartiality – non-discrimination of bidders, for example on the ground of nationality