SMEs’ access to public procurement markets and aggregation of demand in the EU


A February 2014 study commissioned by the European Commission, DG Internal Market and Services.

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This February 2014 report was commissioned by the European Commission, DG Internal Market and Services, and produced by PWC.

Executive Summary: Objectives

Public procurement is of tremendous economic significance for European business. Estimates made by the European Commission put the total value of expenditure by general government and utilities on public works, goods and services for 2011 at 2,406 billion euros, some 19 percent of the EU’s gross domestic product, and a large part of this purchasing is subject to public procurement rules, either national or EU regimes. Public contracts under the latter – normally purchases above a set of value thresholds set in EU legislation – accounted for about 425 billion euros in 2011 (3.4 percent of GDP), showing a steady growth over the past decade.

Given this large overall volume and the weight of public purchasing in selected sectors, it is of vital importance for many European companies to be able to access public contracts. Especially smaller economic actors may face obstacles to successfully participate in public procurement. The aim of this study is to improve understanding of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises’ (SMEs) access to the public procurement markets in the EU, as well as to review how contracting authorities or entities (CAEs) aggregate demand and what this means in terms of access and costs. The analysis covers 27 EU Member States and the three European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The study has been prepared for the European Commission to help inform decision-makers about future policy.