Czech Republic checkmated by EU in military transport aircraft purchase

  • 12:00 AM, October 29, 2010
  • 3777
The European Commission has today acted to ensure fair access to public contracts by referring the Czech Republic to the Court of Justice for not complying with its obligation to award public supply contracts on the basis of public tenders. The Commission is concerned that the Czech Republic has breached EU public procurement rules by not opening up a public contract for four military tactical transport aircraft to EU-wide competition. EU public procurement rules are designed to ensure fair competition for public contracts in Europe, thereby creating opportunities for European companies while ensuring best value for public money. If the rules are not respected, there is a risk of a closed market and waste of public money. In April 2008, the Czech Ministry of Defence directly awarded a public supply contract worth EUR 132 million for four military tactical transport aircraft of the type CASA-295M without organising a tendering procedure. The Czech authorities considered that no public tendering procedure would be necessary as the aircraft would be used mainly for Czech Republic military missions, i.e. for the protection of essential security interests of the State. However, a Member State cannot automatically deviate from standard public procurement rules when procuring military equipment. It has to demonstrate that the tendering procedure as such would present a risk for its essential security interests. In the Commission's view, the Czech Republic has so far failed to demonstrate why a public tender for unarmed transport aircraft would pose a risk for its essential security interests. By awarding the contract without a proper tender procedure, the Commission considers the Czech Republic to have prevented competition on the European market and may have wasted taxpayer's money.
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