France - Commercial Guide
Selling to the Government

Discusses the legal requirements for selling to the host government, including whether the government has agreed to abide by the WTO Government Procurement Agreement or is a party to a government procurement chapter in a U.S. FTA. Specifies areas where there are opportunities.

Last published date: 2019-10-13
The French Government generally follows EU procurement regulations that are adopted into French regulations:  The French Government Portal for French Government tenders, “La PLACE” is the platform for the French public administrations’ procurement procedures. It enables companies to view and respond to consultations issued by French governmental agencies and sub-agencies in the central administration and decentralized services. This includes public institutions, as well as Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Union of public purchasing groups, “UGAP.”

Key link:  
La PLACE.
French government uses Tenders Gazette and Boamp.fr to disseminate French public tenders launched by the government, the military, regions, departments, municipalities and institutions in France.  It enables tracking and access to business opportunities for companies. It offers practical tools to understand the rules of public orders in France:

Key links:
Boamp.fr
boamp.fr/Espace-entreprises
2016 updated French Legislative Code of Public Tenders
Key link to the Public procurement Legal department of the French Ministry of Economy
 
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. Full electronic communication (with some exceptions) will become mandatory for all public contracts from October 2018. Central purchasing bodies are required to publish their contracts and requests for tenders since April 2017.

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) will be introduced beginning 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% or give preference to the EU bid if prices are equivalent (meaning within a three % 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:
  • Water sector
  • Airport services
  • Urban transport sector as described above, and railways in general
  • Dredging services and procurement related to shipbuilding