Thursday, 8 December 2011

European charades

When I spoke to senior people at the Department for Transport earlier this year there was complete befuddlement over how the French and Germans managed to give almost all their major train-manufacture contracts to firms in their home countries without breaking EU rules to prevent protectionism.

As far as the British could see they were following exactly the same procurement process yet they were helpless to stop big deals often going to foreign firms – causing consternation and political problems at home when industries dependent on Government work lost contracts. Remember Thameslink?

Anyway the Government spent the summer studying how the French and Germans get away with it and this article based on Government documents not seen elsewhere lays out some of the things ministers have learnt.

The beauty of the whole thing is that when British officials didn’t understand how to “fix” contracts so they went to home-based firms, they complained the French and Germans weren’t sharing their secrets and even said they were a victim of a “conspiracy of silence”.

Now that they appear to be getting it, officials aren’t so willing to discuss the issue anymore, i.e. they have worked their way into the conspiracy.

What we are left with is three big European governments all shamelessly pretending they operate in an open market, and yet all giving their contracts to home industries. Satire at its best.

2 comments:

tris said...

I see. England protested at how wrong it was until it worked out how to fiddle itself...

Anonymous said...

Games, games and more games, and no one is the winner

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