European Commission seeks to streamline military procurement regulations

BRUSSELS, Belgium—The European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, is proposing a directive to streamline European trade regulations for military systems and equipment, and to improve openness of defense and security markets among members of the European Union.

By John Keller

BRUSSELS, Belgium—The European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, is proposing a directive to streamline European trade regulations for military systems and equipment, and to improve openness of defense and security markets among members of the European Union.

The Commission wants to implement new rules for military procurement to ease cross-border procurement among European Union member states.

Until now, many European laws require military systems and equipment to be made in the countries that will use them. These domestic-procurement laws have been exempted from European Union “single-market” rules, which have hampered the openness of defense markets between member states, European Commission officials say.

European countries have been able to exempt military and security contracts if their leaders believe it necessary to protect their essential security interests. The use of these exemptions must be limited to exceptional cases, but in practice countries have used them extensively to exempt almost all defense and sensitive security procurement from Internal Market rules.

The proposed European Commission directive pertains to arms, munitions, and war material, as well as related works and services. At the same time, member states can also use it for certain particularly sensitive non-military procurements in areas such as protection against terrorism.

The proposed directive would enable awarding authorities to use the negotiated procedure with prior publication as a standard procedure, which gives them flexibility to negotiate all details of the contract. Individual European countries still may exempt defense and security procurement contracts which are so sensitive that even the new rules do not satisfy their security needs. In most cases, however, member states should be able to use the new directive without any risk for their security, European Commission officials say.

For more information, contact the European Commission online at http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm.

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