The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


European Commission report – Compendium of Large Infrastructure Projects

16 June 2020

The School’s Dr Juliano Denicol, Dr Simon Addyman and Mr Olu Morgan have published the Compendium of Large Infrastructure Projects, commissioned by the European Commission.

Aerial shot of the Glen Canyon Dam, United States

The study explores the public procurement aspects in contracts for large infrastructure projects, with an emphasis on the issues and trends that were emerging in the selection of procurement procedures within particular delivery models. Identifying these issues and trends opens up the opportunity to consider the timing and integration of the selected procurement model and procurement procedure into the overall delivery model for large infrastructure projects.

Large infrastructure projects play a key role in any economy. They are complex, uncertain and lengthy endeavours that throw up significant technical, commercial, political and regulatory challenges throughout their life cycle. One of the key components that can influence their overall success is how contracting authorities procure the services and knowledge of suppliers in an often barely liquid market, through the selection and implementation of a procurement procedure from the EU Directives. 

Drawing on a study of procurement procedures in over 80 large infrastructure projects across the European Union from 2008 to 2018, including in-depth semi-structured interviews with procurement professionals within eight of those projects, the study identifies three key mutually dependent recommendations for the European Commission.

Policy recommendation 1: Further training in the professionalism and technical know-how of procurement procedures, both at national and European level. This should equally be done for procurement and project management professionals, as it would facilitate enhanced decision making in the early stages of project development.

Policy recommendation 2: A recognition that the procurement strategy and the selected procurement procedure play a key role in the design and development of the overall delivery strategy for the project, specifically in connecting the front-end development stage with the delivery stage. This can have a significant effect on the overall capability of project organisation and is likely to require innovation in the way that procurement processes are designed and implemented by contracting authorities.

Policy recommendation 3: There is an opportunity to improve the use of the current EU public procurement directives and to develop the next generation of rules through communities of practitioners and policy makers at national and European level. These communities can further develop the knowledge needed to select the most appropriate procedures and design the processes needed to avoid obstacles. The European Commission should further strengthen its efforts to play a key role in facilitating this more dynamic and evolving form of knowledge creation.