Skip to main content
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
News article28 July 2023Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs1 min read

European Commission report concludes on improved transparency and higher SME participation after the first years of application of the concessions directive

The European Commission published today an analysis on the functioning of the EU concessions directive and the impact of the water sector’s exclusion from its framework.

The report highlights that the current legal framework, adopted in 2014 and subsequently transposed into national law by all EU member countries, has led to increased transparency over concession awards, higher SME participation and improved EU countries’ administrative capacity. The total number of concessions awarded in the EU has roughly doubled since the transposition deadline and the number of concessions awarded to SMEs increased from 22.4% in 2016 to 31.6% in 2021. All EU countries have put in place monitoring authorities and structures to ensure an efficient application of the rules for awarding concessions.

Four EU countries account for up to 85% of the total increase of concession awards. The number of service concession awards sharply increased after the transposition deadline, however the number of works concession awards gradually decreased before the transposition, and continued on the same trend thereafter. The sectors with the largest number of concession awards since 2016 are: hotel, restaurant and retail trade services, recreational, cultural and sporting services, and construction works.

The report also specifically assesses the water sector, which was excluded from the scope of the concessions directive due to the importance of water as a public good of fundamental value for all citizens. The report establishes that there is currently insufficient information to assess with certainty the impact of this exclusion on the single market.

The report published today fulfils the Commission’s legal obligation to report to the European Parliament and Council on the functioning of the directive and the water sector’s exclusion from its scope. Following its adoption in 2014, the concessions directive became fully applicable from 18 April 2016. Today, concession markets in the EU are worth an average of €60 billion per year, representing around 12% of overall public procurement in Europe.

The report is accompanied by a Commission staff working document containing detailed legal and data analysis. The report and staff working document are based on in-house analysis and on an external study on the implementation of the concession directive.

More information

Report on the functioning of the EU concessions directive and staff working document