Germany - Selling to the GovernmentGermany - Selling to the Government
Selling to German government entities is not an easy process. German government procurement is formally non-discriminatory and compliant with the GATT Agreement on Government Procurement and the European Community's procurement directives. That said, it is a major challenge to compete head-to-head with major German or other EU suppliers who have established long-term ties with purchasing entities.
Government procurement in Europe is governed by both international obligations under the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and EU-wide legislation under the EU Public Procurement Directives. U.S.-based companies are allowed to bid on public tenders covered by the GPA, while European subsidiaries of U.S. companies may bid on all public procurement contracts covered by the EU Directives in the European Union.
The EU directives on public procurement have recently been revised and new legislation on concession has also been adopted. Member States were required to transpose the provisions of the new directives by April 16, 2016. The four relevant legislations are:
Directive 2014/24/EU (replacing Directive 2004/18/EC) on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts applies to the general sector;
Directive 2014/25/EU (replacing Directive 2004/17/EC) coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors;
Directive 2009/81/EC on defense and sensitive security procurement. This Directive sets Community rules for the procurement of arms, munitions and war material (plus related works and services) for defense purposes, but also for the procurement of sensitive supplies, works and services for non-military security purposes;
Directive 2014/23/EU on the award of concession contracts. A concession contract (either for the delivery of works or services) is conducted between a public authority and a private enterprise that gives the right to the company to build infrastructure and operate businesses that would normally fall within the jurisdiction of the public authority (e.g. highways).
The EU has three remedy directives imposing common standards for all Member States to abide by in case bidders identify discriminatory public procurement practices.
Electronic versions of the procurement documentation must be available through an internet URL immediately on publication of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) contract notice. Full electronic communication (with some exceptions) will become mandatory for public contracts 4.5 years after the Public Contracts Directive 2014/24 comes into force (i.e. October 2018). For central purchasing bodies, the deadline is three years (April 2017).
Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) will be introduced from the 3rd quarter of 2018, based on the requirement set forth in Directive 2014/55/EU. The Directive makes the receipt and processing of electronic invoices in public procurement obligatory. Standards for e-invoicing are being developed by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).
There are restrictions for U.S. suppliers in the EU utilities sector, both in the EU Utilities Directive and in EU coverage of the GPA. Article 85 of Directive 2014/25 allows EU contracting authorities to either reject non-EU bids where the proportion of goods originating in non-EU countries exceeds 50 percent or give preference to the EU bid if prices are equivalent (meaning within a three percent margin). Moreover, the Directive allows EU contracting authorities to retain the right to suspend or restrict the award of service contract to undertaking in third countries where no reciprocal access is granted.
There are also restrictions in the EU coverage of the GPA that apply specifically to U.S.-based companies. U.S. companies are not allowed to bid on works and services contracts procured by sub-central public contracting authorities in the following sectors:
Urban transport sector as described above, and railways in general
Dredging services and procurement related to shipbuilding
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