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Can UK companies participate in EU tenders?

Post-Brexit, UK companies’ right to participate in EU tenders has been unclear, and practices with EU institutions varied. Some continued to accept tenders from UK-based companies, while others appeared not to. That tide is now turning.

Throughout, the ATC has been engaged with the UK’s Department for International Trade, our European umbrella organisation, the EUATC, and through them, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation, to clarify the situation.

In 2022, the DIT’s guidance, based on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, indicated that three key EU institutions, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, and the European External Action Service should open tender opportunities to UK companies if over a certain financial threshold. Other EU institutions may also do so at their discretion.

And in 2022, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation issued the below guidance in response to our enquiries:

According to Article 176(1) of the Financial Regulation (which is applicable to the general budget of the EU) “Participation in procurement procedures shall be open on equal terms to all natural and legal persons within the scope of the Treaties and to all natural and legal persons established in a third country which has a special agreement with the Union in the field of public procurement under the conditions laid down in that agreement.”

From non-EU EUATC member countries only Serbia has such an agreement that covers translation services, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

However, economic operators are free to choose their subcontractors from any country. Thus, in principle all economic operators can act as subcontractors of other economic operators who have themselves access to the EU procurement procedures.

As far as the current framework contract of DGT is concerned, the TRAD19 contracts remain valid for UK companies which were selected but they can’t participate in calls for tender in the future (or at least until an agreement in the field of public procurement is in place).

However, while the picture is still far from 100% clear, the DGT has now confirmed that UK-based companies can participate in the upcoming TRAD23 tender.

DGT TRAD23 tender is open to UK companies

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation will soon launch a new call for tenders for translation services (see Prior Information Notice for more details).

To provide further information and to allow potential tenderers to ask questions, DGT will organise in person information seminars in most EU capitals (see schedule on web page).

The first information session will be online.

When?                 On 6 March 2023, from 14:00 Brussels time

Where?                YouTube (link available on our web page early March)

The DGT has responded to the ATC’s enquiry about UK companies’ eligibility to tender:

The call will be open (among others) to all natural and legal persons established in a non-EU country that has a special agreement with the Union in the field of procurement under the conditions in that agreement, and to international organisations.

The United Kingdom has such an agreement with the Union, so UK-based entities are eligible to tender.

You can find the latest information, events, schedules, TRAD23 videos on our web page, and on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, using #Translate4EU.

If you have any questions about this call for tender, you may want to contact – however, please note that for legal reasons, replies shall be given only after the publication of the Contract Notice, which is foreseen around 1 March 2023.

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