On 15 October 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó, Antoni Comín i Oliveres and Clara Ponsatí Obiols of the Non-attached Members posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In December 2019, the Spanish Ministry of Defence abandoned a call for tender for 348 armoured tanks after the only company that submitted a bid, Santa Bárbara Sistemas (owned by the American company General Dynamics European Land Systems), failed to meet the requirements. However, as if by magic, the same EUR 2.1 billion bid from the same company was accepted eight months later. The newspaper El País said that pressure from the military seemed to have changed the government’s opinion.
Meanwhile, according to the Bank of Spain, Spain’s GDP is expected to fall by 12.6 % due to the pandemic, and its public debt is set to increase to almost 120 % of GDP. Even before these predictions, the Commission noted that public debt stock remains too high, posing significant risks for fiscal sustainability in the medium and long term.
1. Does the Commission have any knowledge of these anomalies in the aforementioned contract?
2. Will it seek clarification from the Spanish Government about this matter, in case there has been a breach of EU law on public contracts?
3. Does the Commission think that Spain’s spending EUR 2.1 billion on military equipment, in the middle of the pandemic, is compatible with its views as expressed in the last European Semester?”
On 4 February 2021, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “As guardian of the Treaties, the Commission has the duty to monitor the Member States’ action in implementing EC law and to ensure that their legislation and practice complies with it, under the control of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Procurement in the fields of defence and security is governed by rules set out in EU Directive 2009/81/EC. The Commission is regularly monitoring the application of the directive in the Member States. The Commission will take into account the information provided by the Honourable Members in the framework of this constant monitoring.
It is up to each Member State to set its own revenue and spending priorities, taking account of the national and European budgetary rules and of the Country-Specific Recommendations issued by the Council, including to preserve the sustainability of public finances.”
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