Doing Business in Belgium: Opportunities in Public Procurement.
Public procurement: a market of more than 95 billion euros
Each year Belgian public authorities spend over 95 billion euros on contracts for goods, works and services. They publish around 35,000 invitations for tenders in the Official Journals.
The Belgian public procurement market therefore represents a major commercial interest for companies, more specifically foreign companies.
The preparation of a tender is a delicate matter. To be successful it is not sufficient to submit the best tender. The applicable Belgian and European regulations also have to be complied with. Experience shows that many tenders are disqualified because of errors which could have been avoided. We briefly describe these errors in this contribution.
First of all, in the case of a call for a tender, only the tenders which were submitted within the applicable time limits are taken into consideration. Moreover, unless otherwise indicated they should be submitted on paper in a sealed envelope.
The tender should clearly indicate the identity of the party submitting it. Difficulties often arise when the tender is submitted by a consortium or jointly with one or more subcontractors.
The tender should be signed by a person who is duly authorized to represent the applicant. If the tender is submitted by a group of companies it should be signed by the representatives of all the companies in the group. When calling for offers for tender, public authorities normally ask applicants to complete a standard document (“formulaire d’offre” or “offerteformulier”) and require specific forms to be used to present the tender. It is essential that these formalities are respected. If not, the tender may be disqualified.
Qualitative selection criteria are often imposed. Applicants should comply with these criteria by submitting relevant quality certificates. Should they fail to do so, the tender may be disqualified.
The applicable regulations require that partners or subcontractors which the applicant includes in the tender for their financial or technical capacity, undertake to make this capacity available to the applicant. This commitment is generally evidenced by a written signed statement to that effect, which should be attached to the offer for tender.
All reservations or deviations in the tender relating to the conditions laid down in the call for tenders constitute irregularities, and generally lead to the complete disqualification of the tender. Subject to exceptions, an applicant can only submit one offer for tender for each call. Proposing a “catalogue” of products and prices is therefore not allowed.
Belgium offers numerous business opportunities to foreign companies, especially in the field of public procurement. However the submission of an offer for tender does not allow for improvisation: the stringent administrative procedures that apply mean the tender should be prepared with the utmost care.
For more information, consult a full version of this article (in French) on http://www.vdelegal.com/wa_files/GE_2 0chronique_20MP_20de_20la_20rigueu r_20des_20soumissionnaires.pdf