Submarines: European Ombudswoman questions the European Commission on Ana Gomes’ complaint
Brussels, 17 June 2015 - In the letter addressed to the Portuguese Socialist Member of the European Parliament, Ana Gomes, the European Ombudswoman, Emily O'Reilly, informs that she requested an explanation from the European Commission (EC) on why it did not supply a satisfactory reply to Ana Gomes' complaint filed in 2010 concerning the violation of European laws relating to the purchase of two submarines by the State of Portugal to the German Submarine Consortium (GSC) and its respective offsets contract. From the contracting process it is clear to Ana Gomes that the offsets of the submarines agreed upon in 2004 violate European treaties.
Steps taken by the Commission in addressing the complaint filed by Ana Gomes ended in March 2014 with a letter signed by the former Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, justifying the closure of the proceeding with the transposition by Portugal of the Directives relating to public contracting in the Defense sector and with the foreseeable full execution of the offsets contract in 2015, after several renegotiations. Dissatisfied with the Commission's reply, Ana Gomes filed a complaint with the European Ombudswoman.
Emily O'Reilly thus found grounds to Ana Gomes' objections relating to the 2012 renegotiation of the offsets contracts, long after the Directives came into effect and also after the European Commission issued a Guidance Note regarding offsets, in which it determines under what conditions these are admissible according to European Law: they must pursue an "essential security interest" and directly relate to the main contract, in this case the maintenance of the submarines.
As stated in the letter addressed to the Socialist Member of the European Parliament, the Ombudswoman considers that the Commission must explain why it did not act to pressure the Portuguese Government to act according to the European norms when it renegotiated the offsets contracts in 2012 and 2014, and exchanged the previous projects by other civil ones, namely the recovery of a hotel in Algarve and, subsequently, the investment in a project of wind energy.
The European Commission must submit and opinion to the European Ombudswoman's by the 30th of September.