K.3 Further rules applicable for all partners

The rules described in the subchapters below are applicable to all partners participating in project implementation (regardless of location and legal status).

K.3.1 “Bid-at-three” rule

The ‘bid-at-three’ procedure applies when purchasing goods or services with a value below the EU and national thresholds, but for amounts at or above EUR 10,000 (excl. VAT).

For all contracting amounts at or above EUR 10,000 (excl. VAT) and below the national and EU thresholds project partners must perform and document the execution of adequate market research. The activities carrying out market research have to be well documented in order to prove that prices for similar goods, services or works have been compared and the selection procedure is transparent, as well as the appropriate audit trail has been followed. Market research could be performed by requesting no fewer than three quotes, using centralised e-procurement services, etc. The quotes (both the requests and replies) can be received electronically (e.g. by e-mail, print-outs from the internet are also possible for comparatively small amounts).

Please note

Should any other national (including organisational) rules exist, which provide an adequate level of transparency, equal treatment, non-discrimination and fulfil at least the minimum requirements of the bid-at-three, these rules can be used instead. In order to avoid any financial consequences, the MA/JS strongly advises project partners to consult the rules with their controller in advance. Artificial splitting of the contracts, to avoid the “bid at three” procedure is not allowed.

K.3.2 Conflicts of interest

When choosing and contracting providers of goods, services and works, project partners must avoid any conflict of interest.

A ‘conflict of interest’ involves a conflict between the public duty and private interests of
a public official. In this conflict the public official has private-capacity interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.

Any types of relationships and interests must not harm a transparent decision-making process nor fair treatment of all tenderers. Project partners must pay special attention to cases where project staff also work in external companies that are participating in the tender exercise that the respective project partner organises.

A finding of a conflict of interest in the procurement procedure might lead to ineligible expenditure.

K.3.3 Consequences in case of procedure violation

Regardless of the project partner location and legal status, failure to comply with the procurement requirements (EU, national and Programme rules) will lead to financial consequences. Depending on the type and significance of the non-compliance, each case will be separately assessed following the guidelines of EC. The guidelines of the European Commission with the Decision No C (2019) 3452¹ will apply to the financial correction.

¹Commission’s Decision No C (2019) 3452 of 14.05.2019”

K.3.4 Exceptions

This section highlights the minimum requirements and recommendations relating to exceptions from the above procurement rules. Project partners who would like to make use of any of the below exceptions should consult their national controller in advance. Moreover, the Programme recommends reviewing the national and EU regulations before making use of the exceptions.


‘In-house’ contracting refers to a public authority contracting another organisation which is fully owned and/or controlled by the awarding authority (e.g. inter-departmental arrangements). In such cases, the contracting entity must ensure that:


there is no private ownership involved;


the subsidiary company carries out 80% or more of its activities for the contracting authority; and;


the parent company exercises control over the subsidiary company in a similar manner as to its own departments.

To ensure transparency and efficiency, the contractors have to follow the public procurement rules when procuring goods, services and works.


Framework contracts are umbrella agreements which specify all or some of the terms for which the involved parties will enter into contracts (‘call-offs’) in the future. Project partners can use services from existing framework contracts for the project’s purposes, provided that these services comply with the relevant procurement rules described in the previous chapters.