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European Commission - Press release

Public procurement: Commission refers AUSTRIA to the Court of Justice of the EU over the direct award of security printing services

Brussels, 10 December 2015

The European Commission has decided to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the European Union to ensure that security printing services of official documents are awarded according to EU rules on public procurement.

The European Commission has decided to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the EU over the legal obligation of federal authorities to directly award security printing services of official documents such as passports, driving licenses, or identity cards to the Austrian State Printing House (Österreichische Staatsdruckerei GmbH, OeSD), a private undertaking.

The Commission considers that the direct award of security printing services to a private company, without a public tender, violates the EU rules on public procurement. These rules are designed to guarantee fair competition and better value for money for contracting authorities and taxpayers.

As the Austrian authorities have not taken any measures to remedy the situation and failed to demonstrate why a private company should be awarded a public contract without giving other companies the chance to compete, the European Commission has decided to refer this case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Background

Before public authorities can award public contracts to a private company, they have to organise a public procurement procedure that complies with Directive 2004/18/EC on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts. This is a fundamental principle of good management of taxpayers’ money, enshrined in EU law.

Since 2000, Austrian contracting authorities have awarded the printing of several official documents, including passports and driving licenses, directly to the Austrian State Printing House (Österreichische Staatsdruckerei GmbH), a private company listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. They have not opened up these services to competition through a public procurement procedure. Austria has failed to provide sufficient reasons to justify why the printing of these documents should not follow the EU public procurement rules.

In July 2014, the Commission issued a reasoned opinion asking Austria to modify its legal provisions obliging federal authorities to directly award the public contracts to Austrian State Printing House. As Austria has not taken any measures to put an end to the violation of EU law, the Commission has decided to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the EU.

More information:

- On EU rules on public procurement.

- On the key decisions in the December 2015 infringements package, see MEMO/15/6223.

- On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12.

- On infringement procedures.

IP/15/6226

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


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