ECJ delivers judgement concerning European Parliaments public procurement

The European Court of Justice has recently dismissed a petition from two Belgian taxi companies, Direct Way and Direct Way Worldwide, concerning European Parliaments public procurement procedure. European Parliament was planning to award the public contract concerning the transport services for the MEPs in Brussels via open procedure. The contract was planned to be awarded to the tenderer submitting the most economically advantageous tender, with price being the most important criterion (60%). The overall value of this public procurement was estimated to be around 10 – 12 million euros during four years.

The European Parliament received two tenders, a combined tender from Direct Way and Direct Way Worldwide and another from TMS Limousine. In this stage of the procurement procedure, TMS Limousine placed first with an overall score of 83, 43 points. The European Parliament however decided to close this open procedure and move the service contract to be awarded in a negotiated procedure on the basis that there had been no acceptable tenders in the prior open procedure, especially the offered prices were regarded way too high. The same two tenderers participated in the negotiated process, which has held mainly on the same terms than the prior open procedure. Again, in this new negotiated process TMS Limousine was awarded the contract. The price with which TMS Limousine won the contract in this process was higher than the price that Direct Way and Direct Way Worldwide had offered in the previous open procedure.

Direct Way and Direct Way Worldwide complained to the European Court of Justice, pleading the court to abolish all of the decisions that had been made in this public procurement of transport services. The court investigated the decision which awarded the contract to TMS Limousine in the later negotiated process. Direct Way and Direct Way Worldwide claimed that the European Parliament had violated the general procurement principle of equality and that the central terms of the procurement had been changed during the process in an illegitimate way. The court investigated both of these claims with great care, but in the end came to the conclusion that the procurement process had been executed correctly and dismissed the case.