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What is Competitive Dialogue? Definition

What is Competitive Dialogue? Definition

The term “competitive dialogue” (CD) is used in a variety of contexts, most notably in the European Union procurement process. CD is a two-way conversation between a contracting authority and economic operators (i.e., businesses) during which they discuss the needs of the authority and the solutions that the operator could provide. The purpose of CD is to allow both parties to understand each other’s requirements better and to identify any potential areas of cooperation or disagreement. Competitive dialogue can be seen as an alternative to the traditional tendering process, which is often criticized for being too inflexible and not conducive to innovation. In contrast, CD is designed to encourage creativity and innovation by giving operators the opportunity to present their ideas early on in the procurement process. Despite its advantages, competitive dialogue has not been without its controversies. In particular, some have argued that CD gives too much power to the contracting authority, who may use it to unfairly advantage certain operators over others.

What is Competitive Dialogue?

In public procurement, competitive dialogue (CD) is a process whereby the contracting authority engages with potential suppliers to explore and develop the best possible solution to its requirement. This process is typically used for complex procurements where it is not possible to produce a specification that would allow suppliers to offer fully-fledged solutions at the outset of the procurement procedure.

The aim of CD is to enable the contracting authority to identify the supplier(s) who are best placed to deliver the required solution(s). To do this, the authority will need to engage in an open dialogue with potential suppliers, during which they will discuss the general scope of the requirement and any specific challenges that need to be addressed.

The dialogue will also provide an opportunity for potential suppliers to share their ideas and expertise with the authority, and to propose innovative solutions that could meet the requirement in a more effective or efficient way.

At the end of the CD process, the contracting authority should have a clear understanding of what solutions are available on the market and which supplier(s) are best placed to deliver them. The authority can then proceed to award contracts on this basis.

What are the benefits of Competitive Dialogue?

Competitive dialogue is a process used by procuring authorities to encourage competition for contracts and ensure that the best possible value for money is achieved. The benefits of this process include:

-Increased competition: By encouraging potential suppliers to compete against each other, procuring authorities can drive down prices and improve the quality of products or services.

-Improved value for money: Procuring authorities can use the competitive dialogue process to negotiate better terms and conditions with suppliers, resulting in improved value for money for taxpayers.

-Greater transparency: The competitive dialogue process is transparent and fair, ensuring that all potential suppliers have an equal opportunity to win contracts.

-Improved supplier relationships: The competitive dialogue process can help procuring authorities build strong relationships with suppliers, as it encourages open communication and negotiation.

What are the challenges of Competitive Dialogue?

There are a few potential challenges that can be encountered when utilising the Competitive Dialogue process. Firstly, it can be quite time-consuming and resource-intensive, as it requires significant engagement with multiple stakeholders. Secondly, there is always the risk that one or more of the participating organisations may attempt to manipulate the process to their advantage. And finally, because it is still a relatively new procurement procedure, there is a lack of established precedent and guidance on how to best conduct a Competitive Dialogue.

How to create a Competitive Dialogue process

A Competitive Dialogue is a two-stage procurement process used by the European Commission and other EU bodies when they need to find complex, innovative or sensitive solutions.

The first stage is a dialogue between the buyer and all of the suppliers who are invited to take part. This allows the buyer to explain what they need, and for the suppliers to get a better understanding of the requirements.

At the end of this stage, the buyer will choose a shortlist of suppliers who they feel are best placed to provide a solution. These suppliers will then be invited to take part in the second stage of the process.

In the second stage, each supplier will be asked to submit their solution to the buyer. The buyer will then evaluate all of the solutions and award the contract to the supplier who they believe has provided the best value for money solution.


Competitive dialogue is a process used by procuring entities to select a contractor for a project. It involves an open and competitive dialogue between the procuring entity and the contractors, in order to allow all contractors to submit their best possible offer. The aim of the competitive dialogue is to ensure that all contractors have a fair chance of being selected, and that the final selection is made on the basis of who can provide the best value for money.

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