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The mailbox of a MEP from the defense sub-committee hacked?

The mailbox of the Portuguese Socialist MEP, an active member of the Defense sub-committee of the European Parliament, Ana Maria Gomes, would have been hacked. This fact was confirmed by the applicant herself. " We are currently working with Parliament's IT staff to see what happened. “For Ana Maria Gomes, this hacking could” be linked to the complaint lodged with the European Commission on a contract awarded by the Portuguese government for the purchase of submarines ».

A case purchase for submarines...

On December 20, the MEP filed a formal complaint with the European Commission for the decision taken by the Portuguese government to purchase two submarines from the German consortium GSC. It is particularly the Minister of Defense who is targeted as responsible for acquisition contracts and offset contracts.

The story goes back a few years already. The government of (socialist) Prime Minister Guterres, which had taken the decision to buy three submarines in 1997. An international call for tenders was opened in 1999. But it was the government of centre-right Prime Minister José -Manuel Barroso, who finalizes the purchase. He reduces the order to two submarines (*). And, in 2004, at the end of the final stage of the competition, which featured the Frenchman Armaris (DCN/Thales), the German consortium GSC / TKMS was chosen. Consortium formed by three German companies: Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW), Nordseewerk (Thyssen group), MAN Ferrostaal.

A breach of European rules denounces the MEP

If the cost of the contract is initially 769 million, it quickly rises beyond that, to 833 million euros, or 64 million more. Sum which was to be fully compensated by an "offset" clause providing for the opening of markets for Portuguese companies in Germany and technology transfers from German companies to Portuguese companies.

The MEP suspects that these provisions hide a case of transfer to a political party, that of the Minister of Defense at the time, the CDS-PP of Paulo Porta. Several judicial investigations and the Court of Auditors have highlighted, according to her, serious shortcomings. It thus seems that the management of offsets was quite fictitious. The intermediary in charge of managing the Offsets, the British Escom "received 30 million euros". But the results don't seem to measure up."At the beginning of 2010, only 25% of the planned offsets had been achieved"while the contract provided for a deadline of 2012 for its full realization.

In her complaint to the European Commission, the MEP stresses that Portugal cannot raise the exception provided for by the European Treaty, the safeguard of national interests, to escape European public procurement rules. She believes that there is therefore a breach of European rules and to sue Portugal.

A delicate subject for the European Commission. First of all, the facts are old. Then the practice of offsets and commissions to intermediaries is (was) quite common in many defense markets. Finally, the government of the time was led by the current President of the European Commission, also Portuguese, but from a different political side than Ana Gomes. On the other hand, referral to the European Commission by a formal complaint from a MEP is extremely rare. And his argument supported by numerous documents.

(*) The two 209PN submarines ordered from the German TKMS can dive to 180 meters, have an autonomy of 7 days, and are served by a crew of 43 people (32 sailors and 11 special operations divers). The first, the Tridente, has been operational since September 2010. The second, the Arpão, is scheduled to be operational in the first quarter of 2011.

Read also: The under-Portuguese sailors come up against a stumbling block... judicial

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).