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Highway toll investigation halted

THE EUROPEAN Commission has ended an investigation against Slovakia over the suspected violation of European rules on public procurement in the tender for the operator of the electronic highway toll system, the SITA newswire reported on March 28, concluding it was impossible to prove that certain bidders were unlawfully excluded from the process.

THE EUROPEAN Commission has ended an investigation against Slovakia over the suspected violation of European rules on public procurement in the tender for the operator of the electronic highway toll system, the SITA newswire reported on March 28, concluding it was impossible to prove that certain bidders were unlawfully excluded from the process.

If Brussels’ suspicions were confirmed, Slovakia would face a lawsuit and a fine. It was alleged that some companies that submitted cheaper offers were excluded from the procurement process.

The EC based its conclusion on the ruling of the European Court of Justice on the preliminary question and the subsequent ruling of Slovakia’s Supreme Court in relation to the rejected bidders, SITA wrote. Those lawsuits also failed at the Bratislava Regional Court.

“In the ruling on the preliminary issue the Court of Justice decided that if the participant proposes an unusually low price, the public procurer has to ask him in writing to clarify the proposed price,” Andrej Králik of the Representation of the EC in Slovakia said, as quoted by SITA, adding that it is up to the national courts to check whether the request for clarification allowed the concerned bidder to sufficiently explain the basic characteristic parameters of their offer.

Originally, the EC was concerned that Slovakia violated the European rules for public procurement by excluding bidders without a sufficient reason, thus hindering fair competition on the EU market. The EC also had its doubts about the inappropriate appendices to the contract after the company SkyToll was selected in the tender to administer the highway toll system.

“If these changes took place at the beginning of the public procurement and if all the participating bidders were informed about them, they could have submitted a different offer and more bidders could have participated in the tender,” Králik said, adding that in the end the EC concluded that Slovak bodies took the necessary measures.

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