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European Commission - Press release

Public procurement: Commission requests Greece to ensure fair access to public contracts for software services

Brussels, 27 October 2011 - The European Commission has requested Greece to ensure full compliance with EU rules on public procurement as regards the purchase of an information system for the Social Security Foundation (IKA). If the rules are not respected, there is a risk of a closed market and wasted public money.

In 2009, the Greek Social Security Foundation (IKA) launched an open public tender for the provision of services for operating an information system. The contract was valued at almost €7.5 million. The call for tenders stipulated that bidders needed to present project references for successfully implemented contracts in Greece which had the same profile as the one for the IKA. According to the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union, contracting authorities are not allowed to impose conditions causing direct or indirect discrimination (such as local preference) of potential bidders established or active in other Member States.

The call for tenders also stipulated that bidders could not invoke the experience of their potential sub-contractors in order to cover all the selection criteria of the call for tenders. However, the relevant EU rules (Directive 2004/18/EC) clearly allow this possibility.

Due to the above restrictions, other IT service companies having provided similar services in other Member States were unlawfully excluded from participating in the tendering procedure in question. Consequently Greek taxpayers were denied the opportunity to possibly get greater value for money by awarding the contracts to companies prepared to offer better services for less money.

The Commission's request to Greece takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If Greece does not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

What is the aim of the EU public procurement rules?

Public procurement is about how public authorities spend public money on construction, goods and services. It covers purchases of everything from computer systems to waste water plants, ship building, and consulting services. Total public procurement in the EU is estimated at about 17% of the Union’s GDP. The open and transparent tendering procedures required under EU public procurement rules mean more competition, stronger safeguards against corruption, and better service and value for money for taxpayers.

More information

Public procurement:

Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States

For more information on infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/739

Contacts :

Chantal Hughes (+32 2 296 44 50)

Catherine Bunyan (+32 2 299 65 12)

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