Belgian, EU and NATO Tenders

An Expert's View about Marketing in Belgium

Last updated: 11 Apr 2011

Selling to the Belgian Government

The Belgian Government generally follows EU procurement regulations. The public procurement market is regulated by two EU Directives, which are applicable to contracts above agreed thresholds. Below these agreed thresholds, each EU member state has developed its own procurement law, which is not regulated by the EU public procurement directives; however, the general principles of the EU Treaty regarding non-discrimination and free movement of goods are applicable even below the thresholds. The two EU public procurement directives are: Directive 2004/18 on coordination of procedures for the award of public works, services and supplies contracts, and Directive 2004/17 on coordination of procedures of entities operating in the utilities sector, which covers water, energy, transport and postal services. These directives are implemented in each EU member state’s national procurement legislation.

Selling to the EU

Most tenders from European public contracting authorities for public supplies, whose value is above the agreed thresholds, are open to U.S.-based companies by virtue of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). The GPA allows U.S. firms to bid on all supplies and services, and some construction works contracts, above thresholds contracted by EU central public contracting authorities. However, there are restrictions for U.S. suppliers in the utilities sector, both in the EU utilities directive and in the EU coverage of the GPA. The utilities directive allows EU contracting authorities in these sectors to either reject non-EU bids, where the proportion of goods originating in non-EUcountries exceeds 50% of the total value of the goods constituting the tender, or are entitled to apply a 3% price differential to non-EU bids, in order to give preference to the EU bids. These restrictions are only applied when no reciprocal access for EU companies in the U.S. market is offered.

The website of the U.S. Mission to the EU has a database of all European public procurement tenders open to U.S.-based firms by virtue of the GPA. This database is free of charge, contains on average 6,000 to 10,000 tenders and is updated twice per week. See:

Selling to NATO

The above number encompasses NATO’s Security and Investment Program or NSIP. It is the NATO common funding program. The Program finances the provisions and facilities needed to support NATO Strategic Commands. The investments cover communications and information systems, radar, military headquarters, airfields, fuel pipelines and storage, harbors, and navigational aids. It also includes Peace Support Operations such as SFOR and KFOR including Communications, Information Systems, Local Headquarters Facilities, Power Systems, and Repairs to Airfields, Rail, and Roads.

This is budget is supplemented by NATO’s Military Budget ($ 986 million) which covers the International Military Staff, the two NATO Strategic Commands and associated command, control and information systems, research and development agencies, procurement and logistics agencies, and the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force.
Funded by the above budgets and other additional external sources, NATO procures goods and services mainly through two acquisition agencies: NC3A and NAMSA.

NC3A, or NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency is the principal agency involved in the research and development, procurement and implementation of Consultation, Command and Control within NATO. NC3A procures technology that can support the objectives of its NATO member nations, partner nations, and Crisis Response Operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo for example.

NAMSA, located in Luxembourg, is the main logistics agency for NATO. Its task is to provide logistic services in support of weapon and equipment systems held in common by NATO nations, in order to promote materiel readiness, to improve the efficiency of logistic operations and to effect savings through consolidated procurement in the areas of supply, maintenance, calibration, procurement, transportation, technical support, engineering services and configuration management.
Both agencies procure goods and services through preferred suppliers and International Competitive Bidding (ICB) for larger projects NC3A and NAMSA’s suppliers lists are respectively known as the Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) and the Source File. Procurement contracts, though smaller than ICBs, can reach up to five million USD. U.S. companies interested in being added to the BOA and/or Source File should contact Ira Bel at the U.S. Commercial Service in Belgium for assistance. U.S. companies interested in tracking and bidding on ICBs are should monitor Commerce’s bulletin board recapping NATO opportunities:

NATO is a private club and only buys from its member nations. This is itself gives U.S. suppliers a distinct advantage.
At the conclusion of the NATO Lisbon summit in November 2010, NATO is has reaffirmed and renewed its priorities. Also the Soviet threat has disappeared NATO renewed its commitment to collective defense embodied in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty: the pledge to collectively defend and repel any aggressions committed upon any of its members. NATO also recognized, particularly 9/11, that threats are increasingly unconventional in nature. Therefore NATO is now focusing on rapid deployability of smaller forces, cyber defense and the streamlining of its operations and management.
We expect NATO to focus on the purchase of information technology security software and services, auditing and business management services and logistical solutions enhancing deployability.

Read the complete guide to Doing Business in Belgium

Posted: 10 April 2011, last updated 11 April 2011

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