Sweden - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector

Describes how major projects are secured and financed. Explains activities of the multilateral development banks in and other aid-funded projects.

Last published date: 2021-09-14

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 directives 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.  Central purchasing bodies are required to publish their contracts and requests for tenders since April 2017.

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) was introduced beginning of 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 Standardization (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 a service contract to undertakings 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:

  • Water sector
  • Airport services
  • Urban transport sector as described above, and railways in general
  • Dredging services and procurement related to shipbuilding

Public tenders above contract values of $70,000 are published in the EU database TED.

U.S. companies bidding on Government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy.  A unit of the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters bidding on public sector contracts with international governments and government agencies.  The Advocacy Center works closely with our network of the U.S. Commercial Service worldwide and inter-agency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agencies expressing support for the U.S. bidders directly to the foreign government. Consult Advocacy for Foreign Government Contracts for additional information.