Public procurement to pursue cohesion policy objectives (2018-2021)

Public procurement represents roughly 14% of the EU GDP with a value of approximately EUR 1.8 trillion (2015 data). It is not only a crucial pillar of strategic governance and service delivery, but also a key economic activity.  If used strategically, public procurement can improve the competitiveness of market economies, as well as help deliver major policy outcomes in response to today's societal and economic challenges, especially when it comes to creating sustainable growth and jobs.

Procurement has also an important impact on the EU structural and investment funds (ESI Funds), where almost half of these funds is spent via public contracts. Smart contracting helps to get the best value for money from ESI Funds.

Strategic public procurement should play a bigger role for governments and managing authorities to respond to societal, environmental and economic challenges. Mainstreaming green, social and innovative criteria, a more extensive use of pre-market consultation or qualitative assessments (MEAT) as well as procurement of innovative solutions at the pre-commercial stage requires not only a highly competent pool of public procurers but above all policy vision and political ownership. To achieve optimum outcomes in public procurement, strategic criteria need to be applied systematically. This can be facilitated by extensive practical support, such as dissemination of standards, methodologies for benchmarks, regular updates of labels and evaluation criteria and availability of a library of good practice.

In order to promote the use of strategic procurement in the context of Cohesion policy, DG REGIO finances a pilot project to offer practical "hands-on" support to five contracting and/or managing authorities in the EU Member States for strategic procurement initiatives.

Fast Facts


Countries: European Member States

©Adrien Coquet/The noun project Timeframe: January 2018 – December 2021
©Shashank Singh/ The Noun project


  • Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy 
©The Icon Hero/Noun Project

Areas of focus:



Main deliverables

FINAL REPORT - Mainstreaming strategic public procurement to advance regional development


PUGLIA REGION (Italy) - Innovation in wastewater management

► Video - Lessons learned

  Factsheet "Procuring innovation in water management"

Risk assessment tool

CENTRO REGION (Portugal) - Promotion of a circular economy

► Video - Lessons learned

Factsheet "Closing the loop: the power of circular procurement"

 Briefing note on Criteria evaluation

Briefing note on Market Engagement

EASTERN MACEDONIA AND THRACE REGION (Greece) - Framework agreements for housing and infrastructure

Handbook on Public Procurement Demand Aggregation and Framework Agreements: Developing strategies – Assessment of demand and supply 

STEREA ELLADA REGION (Greece) - Decontamination of the Asopos River

► Guide - Designing an infrastructure procurement strategy in 3 steps

Content of the project

The overall objective of the Action is to encourage the uptake of strategic procurement in projects under Operational programmes co-financed by the ESI Funds. The work carried out by the OECD consists in providing operational support and technical assistance to contracting and managing authorities in carrying out procurement processes in selected initiatives. The Action will be comprised of three (3) components as follows:

  1. Identification of procurement initiatives in EU Member States which would highly benefit from strategic approaches;
  2. Selection of a representative sample of procurement initiatives and assistance to contracting or/and managing authorities to implement and promote strategic procurement procedures (or specific phase/part of the procedure); development of guidance & tools needed in order to implement strategic procurement and build relevant knowledge and skills.
  3. Summary of the experiences and lessons learned: Provision of recommendations and follow-up actions for further and wider promotion of strategic procurement for projects co-financed by ESI Funds under Operational programmes.


  • March 2018: Call for expression of interest
  • June 2018: Applications received
  • July 2018:  Selection of five procurement initiatives
  • October 2018: 1st Steering Committee
  • December 2018: Letters of agreement defining the scope of OECD’s support agreed in all five initiatives
  • January-February 2019: Fact-finding missions in all selected initiatives
  • Autumn-Winter 2019: First drafts of guidance and practical toolkits developed in each selected initiatives
  • Spring 2020: Feedback received from stakeholders and counterparts