Barnier: Slovakia could face lawsuit in two months over e-toll tender

Slovakia is to get a two-month-long opportunity to avoid possible court action by the European Commission over a controversial tender. The EC is about to file reservations concerning the tender, which resulted in a contract to provide an electronic highway tolling system being granted to the most expensive bidder. Slovakia will then have two months to respond, the TASR newswire reported on Tuesday, September 28.

Slovakia is to get a two-month-long opportunity to avoid possible court action by the European Commission over a controversial tender. The EC is about to file reservations concerning the tender, which resulted in a contract to provide an electronic highway tolling system being granted to the most expensive bidder. Slovakia will then have two months to respond, the TASR newswire reported on Tuesday, September 28.

“The Commission has stated that the rules of the procurement of a state commission for the electronic road toll system were breached. We continue to investigate this case and on Wednesday, September 29, I will advise the Commissioners to send their statement to Slovakia,” said internal market commissioner Michel Barnier, speaking in Bratislava on Tuesday. The Slovak authorities will then have two months to send back an official response to the commission’s reservations. “After that we will look into Slovakia's response and we will have to make another decision about whether we will submit the case to the European Court of Justice, or if that won’t be necessary,” he explained.

“The justification opens another phase in these proceedings,” stated Slovak Transport Minister Ján Figeľ. Brussels claims the Slovak authorities breached the rules of equal treatment and non-discrimination in the tender for the electronic road-toll system. Awarded under the previous government, it caused controversy because it was won by the highest bidder after all the other participants were disqualified.

A complaint was submitted to Brussels by one of the losing bidders – Slovak Pass – in 2008. The transport minister at the time of the tender, Ľubomír Vážny (Smer), insisted at a press conference on Tuesday that the process was legitimate. “We respected the laws of Slovakia on public procurement, which is compatible with the European statutes,” he stated. Vážny said he believes that as far as defending the tender is concerned, his successor Figeľ should rely on a letter from the Commission sent in March 2010. “There [the Commission] clearly stated that the road-toll system is introduced successfully, that it is a good, transparent and non-discriminatory project,” explained Vážny.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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