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Building Europe’s infrastructure – time to use Competitive Dialogue more effectively?


07 Apr 2010


Public Affairs

Competitive Dialogue was created by the 2004 Public Procurement Directives as a new and more flexible solution for public authorities wanting to award contracts for complex infrastructure projects”. But, says Michael Burnett, PPP expert at the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), “not all methods of using it have proved to be equally effective in promoting value for money for the public sector”. And, he continues, “objective advice for public sector decision makers on when and how to use Competitive Dialogue effectively is hard to find”.

To meet these challenges EIPA has just published a new book ““Competitive Dialogue – A practical guide” written by Michael Burnett in collaboration with Martin Oder. 

After assessing the different approaches used so far, the authors now conclude there are clear trends showing how to implement Competitive Dialogue more effectively. “Of course we have had to learn good practice by doing” says Mr Burnett, but, he concludes, “it’s time now to learn the lessons of how Competitive Dialogue has been used so far to be able to use it better in the future”. 

Mr Burnett highlights some of the questions which the book addresses ie is Competitive Dialogue a better procurement route than the Restricted Procedure or the Negotiated Procedure? What does the public sector need to do to plan the effective use of Competitive Dialogue? How can the public sector best use the flexibility which the procedure provides? What needs to be done at EU and national level to enable public authorities to make the right choices?

“No-one has ever claimed that using Competitive Dialogue is an easy option” Mr Burnett continues “but the stakes in terms of the need to improve Europe’s infrastructure and the effective implementation of key European policies, such as compliance with environmental legislation and the completion of the Internal Market, at an affordable cost are too high for it to fail”. 

Maastricht (NL), 6 April 2010

Note for the editors:

1. Competitive Dialogue is a new procedure for awarding public contracts, introduced by the 2004 EU Public Procurement Directives (Directive 2004/18). More than 3000 award procedures using Competitive Dialogue have already been launched across the EU.

2. Michael Burnett is a UK Chartered Accountant, member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. Currently he is Director of EIPA’s European Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Forum, leading international training programmes in PPP for European public officials. His former roles included heading a UK government training agency and as an Assistant Director at KPMG. Mr Burnett is a member of the Editorial Board of the European PPP Law Review and the author of “PPP – A decision-maker’s guide”, published by EIPA in 2007

3. Martin Oder (Rechtsanwalt) is a partner in Haslinger Nagele & Partners law firm in Vienna, Austria. He was admitted to the Vienna Bar in 1999 and worked for the European Commission (DG Competition) and for international law firms in Vienna and Brussels from 1995 to 2002

4. More information: Ms Joyce Groneschild, Marketing & Information Coordinator,

European Institute of Public Administration, Tel: +31 (0) 43 3296357; email:

5. To order the publication “Competitive Dialogue – A practical guide”, please visit the website: