Internal market rules are applied to public procurement in the EU member states through European Community directives, transposed into national law.
But how single is the Single Market, if you are a European or international firm and you want to do business in one of the member states of the European Union?
You may even want to supply goods or services to central, regional or local government.
We look at the procurement legislation in Sweden, with a view to the information available to foreign suppliers in English.
The European Community directives are the foundation, and naturally they are available in English.
The so called Classic Directive:
Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts (OJ 30.4.2004 L 134/114), since amended. This is a link to the consolidated version:
The so called Utilities Directive:
Directive 2004/17/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors (OJ 30.4.2004 L 134/1) has been amended a few times, so this is a link to the consolidated version:
Preparing transposition in Sweden
When the Swedish Government got around to transposing the EC Directives, it presented a massive Bill to the Parliament. The main proposal runs to 570 pages:
Regeringens proposition 2006/07:128 Ny lagstiftning om offentlig upphandling och upphandling inom områdena vatten, energi, transporter och posttjänster:
The Government Bill was accompanied by two sets of Annexes.
Annexes 1 – 6 (373 pages):
Annexes 7 – 15 (280 pages):
The new Swedish procurement legislation consists of two main Acts, in force from 1 January 2008.
Lag om offentlig upphandling (Swedish Public Procurements Act)
The Act transposing the Classic Directive 2004/18/EC is called Lag (2007:1091) om offentlig upphandling (abbreviated LOU)
Lag (2007:1092) om områdena vatten, energi, transporter och posttjänster (colloquially Försörjningslagen) transposes the Utilities Directive 2004/17/EC.
Current Swedish legislation can be accessed through (in Swedish):
The Swedish Government offers some unofficial translations of legal acts on a web page called Swedish statutes in translation, with links to a dozen legal areas, but I was unable to find any translation of the procurement acts there:
Swedish Competition Authority
The Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket) is responsible for improving competition and, since 1 September 2007, for supervising public procurement. It offers some basic information, news and publications in English:
Last year, the Competition Authority published The Strategy of the Swedish Competition Authority and its Direction for Procurement Issues (30 pages), where it set out its main goals to enhance competition in public procurement:
The main public procurement aims of the Swedish Competition Authority are the following:
procuring entities being aware of their options regarding procurement and that they avoid violating the Swedish Public Procurements Act,
the competitive sector of the Swedish economy grows and the competitive solutions are applied to an increased extent in the public sector,
suppliers have the opportunity and want to take part in procurements,
Swedish consumers, procuring entities and suppliers know about the significance of competition for a varied selection goods and services of good quality at reasonable prices.
By the way, there is an unofficial Swedish translation of the Swedish Competition Act (but I found no translation of the procurement acts):
The Swedish state coordinates its purchasing activities. For some information in English, go to Statlig inköpssammordning, Coordination of government procurement:
There is a short presentation of the coordinating body, the Swedish Financial Management Aurhority (Ekonomistyrningsverket) on:
Sveriges offentliga inköpare SOI
Sveriges Offentliga Inköpare SOI is an association for about 1,100 purchasing professionals, but the information is available only in Swedish:
Swedish National Board of Trade
Kommerskollegium (the Swedish National Board of Trade) is the Swedish governmental agency dealing with foreign trade and trade policy. Its main areas of activity are related to the European Community:
The Internal Market
The Customs Union
External Trade policy
The web pages offer a fair amount of basic information in English. For more, go to:
The National Board of Trade is a partner in the SOLVIT network.
Green public procurement
Three public procurement themes are the darlings of politicians. One is the participation of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the second is e-procurement and the third one is green public procurement.
Sweden would not be Sweden without green procurement cropping up. Naturvårdsverket (the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency) offers a point of departure on its page More and more public bodies in Sweden have guidelines on green procurement:
Upphandling24 is a commercial website in Swedish, dedicated to public procurement news and information:
Confederation of Swedish Enterprise
Svenskt Näringsliv (the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise) lobbies for more open public markets. The information is in Swedish:
Local Authorities and Regions
For the members of Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting (the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, SALAR) the complicated procurement legislation is a constant headache, which results in demands for simplification and continuous monitoring of new proposals and decisions (in Swedish):
Freedom of choice
The Swedish Competition Authority has a page in English ‘New rules pave the way for freedom of choice’ on a new government proposal. The law, due to come into force on 1 January 2009, regulates how municipalities and county councils are to proceed if they decide to introduce a freedom-of-choice system in their care services:
The Government Bill, Regeringens proposition 2008/09:29 Lag om valfrihetssystem, is available in Swedish:
It is hard to penetrate new markets, especially outside one’s own home country, and public procurement adds its own twist.
The language barriers within the internal market are formidable, and in Sweden the available official information in English can be described as basic. But generally Swedish officials are helpful and English is almost a second language to them, so once you get the ball rolling, you have every chance of success.