OJEU – What is it

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OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union)


OJEU stands for Official Journal of the European Union.This journal publishes all contracts from the public sector which are valued above a certain EC limit threshold. This also includes organisations and projects which receive public money (private contracts only need to be published if they receive for more than 50% of public funds).

These contracts must be published; the public sector don’t have a choice. By publishing all the public contracts which meet the threshold the public sector makes sure the most competitive tender is secured which promotes open and transparent competition.

This prevents contracts being awarded on the basis of unfair payoffs such as organisations providing benefits to civil service employees in order to obtain the contract.

The public sector spends a substantial amount of money and is always on the search for new suppliers. The money the public sector spends is from tax payers. OJEU is established to give the tax payer an idea of where their money is used and to make sure that their money is used for the right contracts.

So the purpose of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) is to increase open, honest and fair dealings to ensure that the best value for money – for public organisations – is obtained.

This journal is published every working day in the 23 official languages of the European Union (E.U.).

OJEU provides information about the current requirements and contracts that have been allocated in the public sector. Furthermore, it is possible for suppliers to express interest or sometimes even tender directly (this depend on the contract procedure).

OJEU is able to provide this information because all the contracts in the public sector (within the European Union) which meet the EC limitthreshold need to be published in the OJEU. This means that all high value deals with public organisations within the European Union will be advertised and put out to open tender. This means that any company can provide a bid on the deals in the OJEU.

Therefore, OJEU is not only important for the public sector (to secure the most competitive tender) but also for suppliers. The public sector employ more than 25% of the workforce in the United Kingdom, and includes: central government, local or regional authorities, bodies governed by public law, or associations consisting of one or more of these authorities or bodies governed by public law.


The Official Journal superseded the earlier Official Journal of the European Coal and Steel Community which was published from 30 December 1952. The Official Journal of the European Coal and Steel Community was renamed Official Journal of the European Community (OJEC) with the establishment of the European Union (in November of 1993) before its title was the European Community (which was established in 1967).

The Official Journal of the European Union has been published since its entry into the Nice Treaty on 1 February 2003. The Treaty of Nice contains rules for closer co-operation. The Treaty of Nice is the first European treaty which contains formal rules for the application of sanctions against a Member State. Today OJEC is known as OJEU.

Each year the contracts published by the public sector are worth more than €500 billion which are published by the public sector. Each day about 650 new notices are advertised. Around 10-15% of these notices are from the UK.


There are three different sections within the OJEU:

”L series”

In the L series all the information concerning EU legislation can be found. This includes all regulations but also all binding and non-binding acts which are relevant for organisations and institutions.

”C series”

In the C series can be found the full description of all notices. (What a notice is, is explained in: Inviting the market to respond). Furthermore, all EU information can be found in this series. This includes European law and statements of the European Union and the Court of Justice. Often statements and judgments make clear in which way the law has to be implemented. A lot of these documents are only published electronically (CD-ROM or EUR-Lex database), this electronic section is known as OJ C E.

”S series”

In the S series all the invitations for companies to express their interest in contracts can be found. So in the S series companies are asked to tender.

EC LimitThresholds

All contracts with public organisations must obey the EC treaty (which is governed under European law). The regulations in this treaty prevent discrimination against companies from any EU country. This means that goods and services can move freely between borders of EU members. The regulations about which contract must be named in the OJEU are extremely detailed. This information was obtainable from the OGC, now replaced by the Cabinet Office website (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/cabinet-office).

It is forbidden by EU law to break up contracts to avoid the rules. A rough rule-of-thumb is that contracts concerning services (e.g. consultancy services, catering, cleaning of buildings, payroll, audit, banking, insurance, etc.) and supplies (e.g. furniture, office equipment, IT hardware, etc.) for more than £144,000 or works (e.g. building and engineering) for more than £3.6 million must be published in OJEU. As with most regulations there are a lot of exceptions; For instance, a contract has been classified as secret. These thresholds are implemented within national law.

Below are the four major groups relating to the UK (these regulations can be found at [www.ogc.gov.uk]):

  • The Public Works Contracts Regulations SI 1991/2680;
  • The Public Services Contracts Regulations SI 1993/3228;
  • The Public Supply Contracts Regulations SI 1995/210;
  • The Utilities Contracts Regulations SI 1996/2911.

When a contract is reviewed to see if it exceeds the limit, the total price of the contract is taken. If this price is unknown than the value is based on the estimated total contract value (concerning term contracts of 48 months or less) or the 48 months value (for contracts longer than 48 months or unlimited duration). But even contracts below the EC limit are often published in national or regional newspapers (e.g. Worcester news), trade journals (e.g. Foundry trade journal) or online directories (e.g. www.tendersdirect.com).

The time between the deadline for biddings and sending the contract to OJEU has to be at least 52 days. But it can take 12 days before the contract appears in OJEU which means that competitors only have 40 days to respond. The deadlines for restricted and negotiated procedures are even shorter. The different procedures which can be followed are:

  • open – every company can bid on the contract;
  • restricted – the company has to prove use for the public organisation before they are allowed to bid on the contract;
  • negotiated – only several companies are able to bid (is only allowed in certain circumstances and the public organisation negotiate about the terms with these companies).

Even if public organisations are under the OJEU limit, there are rules concerning tendering. These rules are different for every country and region. An example of extra thresholds for organisation is given below. These thresholds are an example given for London authorities.

If aIf an organisation fulfils a general need (i.e. they provide goods/services formerly provided by a nationalised business) they must apply to the OJEU rules as well. Even if such an organisation is operating through commercial activities they fulfil a public function.

Non-European Union countries can also tender advertisements within the OJEU (there are non-European NUTS-codes). However, publications about contracts do not often arrive overseas in a timely manner. But it is possible for overseas organisations to order the advertisements in OJEU.

How to gain access

Technology improves rapidly and with new technologies there are also different ways of information exchange. The term “journal” is misleading, as production of the hard copy version ceased in 1997. Below are a few ways in which you can gain access to the OJEU contracts:

  •  Daily paper edition it is possible to take out an annual subscription and than order individual copies;
  • Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) is the online version of OJEU. The access to the website (http://www.ted.eur-op.eu.int/) is free of charge;
  • CD-ROM is published twice a week, this can be obtained by annual subscription or single copies can be bought;
  • Fax specific extracts from OJEU can be faxed to your company;
  • Copies of OJEU are available at some central libraries, chambers of commerce or euro information centres.

Inviting the market to respond

Before public organisations put an advertisement on OJEU they have to make sure they describe the requirements as detailed as possible. An advertisement in OJEU placed by a public organisation is called a “notice”.

  • This notice must reflect the needs of the organisation can be prioritized.
  • The notice should also include future requirements.
  • The notice must encourage the market to come with innovative and useful responds.
  • It should give a clear view of the demands the public organisation has so that the supplier is able to provide the public organisation with an offer which ensure the best value for money.

Furthermore, all previous notices of other companies are still in the database. Using this information could mean a significant efficiency saving for a public organisation. A further time saving could be made on tendering.

The notice must contain at least the following items:

  • summarise of the service required;
  • the contract start and end dates;
  • how the tenders will be evaluated by the public organisation;
  • relevant contact details of the public organisation;
  • ask companies who are interested in the contract to express their interest;
  • determine deadlines.

How to tender

If a company wants to bring a bid to a specific contract in OJEU they have to pay attention to a few points.

  1. the company has to make sure the bid is brought on time. The date mentioned in OJEU is the last date, so the company has to make sure they provide the public organisation their information before this date;
  2. the supplier has to make sure they can fulfil the requirements. The requirements are mentioned in detail in OJEU;
  3. once you expressed your interest you have to provide the public organisation with all the information they ask for (for example experience, references, financial status);
  4. if the public organisation gives you approval to make an offer the company has to make sure that all the requirements are in the offer. Often one of the requirements of the public organisation is a quality assurance. The company has to make sure they know exactly what the quality assurance implies. For instance, lets assume that a contractor and a public organisation agreed to build a building for £7 million. After 20 years the building collapse, for which period was the quality assurance applicable for and under which circumstances? For example, was it stated that the house should withstand the weight of 50 trucks?

Housing Associations and OJEU

European law housing associations have to be treated as public organisations and are therefore bound to OJEU rules. Housing associations have to follow the OJEU rules in order to receive funding. The exact procurement requirements for housing associations can be found on gov.uk domains. The main concern of housing association was that bureaucracy would increase and that new initiatives would derail (civil servants don’t know what they are allowed to do). As answer to this fear organisations specialised in obeying the national and European law targeted housing associations. These organisations were already specialised in the public sector (e.g. LHC). And offer specialised solutions for housing associations to avoid lengthy tendering processes. In other words these specialised organisation help the company to comply the regulations and prevent waste of time.

Information sourced from:

  • http://www.uwe.ac.uk
  • http://www.is4profit.com
  • http://www.navca.org.uk
  • http://www.sel.org.uk
  • http://www.lhc.gov.uk
  • http://www.ogc.gov.uk
  • http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk
  • http://www.dsdnhttp://www.dsdni.gov.uk