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European Commission - Press release

Public procurement: Commission closes its investigations concerning the purchase of military transport aircraft by the Czech Republic

Brussels, 24 November 2011 - The European Commission has today closed the case against the Czech Republic for breaching EU public procurement rules when it purchased four military transport aircraft in 2009. The Czech authorities directly awarded the public contract without EU-wide tendering procedures. Following subsequent infringement proceedings (see IP/10/501 ), the Commission considered referring the Czech Republic to the EU Court of Justice in 2010 (see IP/10/1438 ).

The European Commission has closed investigations as the Czech Republic has ensured that contracting authorities will in future limit the use of the derogation from public procurement procedures for military purchases (Article 346 TFEU) to exceptional cases where this is necessary for the protection of its essential security interests. Moreover, the Czech Republic acknowledges that Member States who make use of this derogation are obliged to prove that this measure is necessary for the protection of their essential security interests if the Commission or another competent authority requires them to do so.

This clarification was made in the transposition of the new Defence procurement Directive 2009/81/EC and brings the Czech legislation in line with the Commission's position. Moreover, although the Commission continues to consider that the purchase of aircraft in 2009 should have been subject to EU-wide tendering procedures, the public supply contract in question has already been fully performed. Consequently, a referral to the European Court of Justice would be devoid of purpose and fail to defend the EU interest. What matters is that in the future, all contracts will now be subject to appropriate EU rules.

What is the aim of EU public procurement rules?

Public procurement is when public authorities spend public money to construct infrastructure and to purchase all sorts of goods and services, from computer systems, waste water treatment systems and shipbuilding to consultancy. It is estimated that all the public contracts awarded in the EU represent, together, some 17% of GDP. The open and transparent evaluation procedures laid down by the EU rules on public procurement promote competition, offer better protection against corruption and enable taxpayers to benefit from more effective and better value goods and services.

If essential terms and conditions of a public contract are modified without giving other bidders the opportunity to compete for the contract, there is a serious risk of distorting competition, deterring potential new bidding companies and wasting taxpayers' money.

Since July 2011, specific EU rules entered into force for defence and sensitive security procurement. These rules take into account the specificities of such purchases and introduce the principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination in Member States defence and security markets.

More information

Public procurement:

Defence procurement:

Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States:

For more information on infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/824

Contacts :

Chantal Hughes (+32 2 296 44 50)

Carmel Dunne (+32 2 299 88 94)

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