Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Brussels cancels 460 million contract with British group BT after a complaint from Telefonica

The European Commission has canceled a mega-contract worth 460 million euros, awarded to the Belgian subsidiary of BT Group (formerly British Telecom), to develop a secure communications system, Trans between Administrations (Testa). – was to take over the management of the European telematics services. and the secretive network that links more than 750 EU public institutions, such as Europol, the European Defense Agency or the many agencies spread across the Union.

“The award decision to Testa has been rescinded. The tender participants have been notified of the reasons for the cancellation. Legal proceedings have prevented the Commission from signing a contract and since then these services The economic, technical and operational context has fundamentally changed,” the commission acknowledged through a spokesperson.

The argument used by Brussels to cancel the award is due to the passage of time since the launch of the Testa competition in May 2019, and the significant changes that have taken place in these four years in terms of technological advances, the macroeconomic environment and Changes geopolitical situation, the requirements expressed at the time of publication of the competition no longer fully correspond to the current requirements.

A consortium composed of Telefónica (through its subsidiaries Telefónica España and Telefónica Global Solutions) and Indra Soluciones Tecnologías de la Información BT is second only to BT. The consortium decided to file an appeal for annulment of the award before the General Court of the European Union, noting that the Commission had identified certain violations of fundamental principles of EU law and errors of fact and law in the evaluation of the submitted proposals. was underestimated. aspects of Telefonica’s offer, sources in the union informed this newspaper. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom also appealed against the award on similar grounds.

At the same time, the consortium filed an appeal for suspension and for precautionary measures to suspend the signing of the final agreement between BT and the Commission until the Court of Appeal decides on the appeal. This suspension prevented BT and the Commission from signing a final agreement.

The cancellation of the award to BT Belgium is covered by Article 171 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union. This article establishes that “until the contract has been signed, the contracting authority may cancel the public procurement process without candidates or bidders being able to demand compensation of any kind.” This decision The candidates or bidders will be intimated and informed at the earliest.

The award also raised eyebrows due to the fact that a British company was the winner after the Brexit episode, although BT Group entered the competition through its Belgian subsidiary to avoid this situation. For now, it is unknown when the next tender will come out and what specifications it will have. In the meantime, the current provider, T-Systems, will continue to provide service.

“We are disappointed by the cancellation of Testa’s procurement process, as the European Commission had previously confirmed the award of the tender to BT Global Services Belgium, a leading and trusted ICT provider in the EU and a legally separate subsidiary within BT. Is. We are now considering our position in relation to this matter,” a BT spokesperson said in a statement.

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