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The basic principles of ESA's procurement approach

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The rules governing ESA procurements are laid down in the ESA Convention and are implemented through the following regulatory instruments:

  • ESA Procurement Regulations,
  • General Clauses and Conditions for ESA Contracts,
  • Industrial Policy Committee (IPC) Terms of reference.

The ESA Procurement Regulations and the General Clauses and Conditions for ESA Contracts are documents made available to the public (, see Reference Documentation / Administrative Documents).

The Procurement Regulations establish some fundamental principles such as:

Article 10 Principles(partial quote)

“Provisions in these Regulations and in any other instructions concerning the placing of contracts shall always be interpreted so as to ensure :

  1. Transparency and fair and equitable treatment of all economic operators;
  2. That the participation of a Tendering Body does not cause any distortion of competition in relation to private economic operators;
  3. The most economic and effective employment of the Agency’s resources;
  4. The implementation of the defined industrial policy and to guarantee a distribution, of work among Member States provided in Article VII and Annex V of the Convention.”


Article 13 Competitive tendering(partial quote)

“Open competitive tender shall be the normal procedure for the placing of contracts'

“Restricted competitive tender may be applied [followed by the list of cases where this is possible]”

Article 14 Non Competitive tendering(partial quote)

“Competitive tendering may be waived in one or more of the following cases: [followed by the list of cases where this is possible]” 

The ESA Procurement Regulations contain, as Annexes, various Implementing Instructions, and in particular:

  • The General Conditions of Tender for ESA Contracts,
  • The Tender Evaluation Manual,
  • The Procurement Review procedure.


Among these Implementing Instructions referred to above, the Tender Evaluation Manual is a very important element that establishes in detail all the rules and procedures to be observed for nomination of an independent ‘Tender Evaluation Board”, preparation of RFQ/ITTs, internal approval, distribution of the package for tendering, conduct to be followed during the tendering phase, receipt and opening of offers, and the evaluation of offers culminating in the Tender Evaluation Board recommendation for the selection of the contractor to be retained.

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