German MEP says Microsoft should be excluded from EU contracts
Heidi Rühle, a member of the European Parliament for the German Green party, says she has discovered a previously unconsidered consequence of the EU's proceedings against Microsoft for restraint of competition. " No public contracts for Microsoft?", she asks in a question (PDF file) to the EU Commission, quoting Article 93 of the EU budget regulations. This provides that, during a contract awarding procedure, tenderers who have committed a serious contravention and been given a legally effective sentence should be excluded from the procedure.
Article 93 of the EU budget regulations says, among other things, that applicants or tenderers are to be excluded from an invitation to tender if they have been punished on the basis of a legally effective verdict for reasons that put their professional integrity in question (Subsection 1b), or if, as part of their business activity, they have committed a serious contravention that was demonstrably detected by the principal – Subsection 1c – or if they have been sentenced for fraud, corruption, participation in a criminal association, or some other action directed against the financial interests of the communities – Subsection 1e. In sensational antitrust proceedings, the EU Commission did sentence Microsoft to pay a record fine and to accept special conditions on its products - and this was confirmed by the European Court of First Instance. Since Microsoft has lodged no protest against the court decision, the latter is legally effective.
The consequence of that, as Rühle sees it, is that the EU Commission is bound to exclude Microsoft from EU contract awarding procedures. European institutions, she says, are obliged in future not to buy to renounce Microsoft's products. Rühle, who is also the internal market policy spokeswoman of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament, emphasizes that, during the antitrust proceedings, the Court found that Microsoft had prevented innovation and options to choose, to the disadvantage of consumers: authorities and companies had frequently had to rely on expensive Microsoft networks instead of being able to choose alternatives from less expensive competitors.
The EU Commission has not yet made a statement or responded to her question. Under European law, it has six weeks in which to answer an MEP's question in writing.