NEWS

Illegal procurement of supplies

All non-weapons contracts for the armed forces have been suspended, following a Council of State decision published on May 10. Decision 270/2004 decrees the suspension of procurements of surgical sutures by the military hospital NIMTS. Anything procured by the armed forces, from tanks and aircraft to stationery and uniforms, is governed by presidential decree 284/89. In 1993, European Union Directive 36 created a new rule for state contracts in all EU countries, giving member states a two-year deadline to harmonize their legislation. With Presidential Decree 270/95, Greece fully incorporated the directive, while with Law 2286/95 it excepted armaments expenses from the directive’s ambit, as it was entitled to do for reasons of national security. So far, so good, but for one detail. This exception has been used systematically ever since as a loophole was created which exempts from the directive not only weapons but also non-weapons expenditure by the armed forces. The armed forces have ignored the EU directive as if it never existed. This has resulted in a total lack of transparency, as the amounts in contracts are not clear and their criteria even less so, allowing the political leadership of the armed forces a free hand with billions of euros. Hearing an appeal brought by a company that had bid to supply surgical sutures to NIMTS, the Council of State decreed the immediate suspension of the competition, because it had not been conducted in accordance with the EU directive and accompanying Greek legislation. The decision paves the way to a break with a bad tradition.