J'Accuse : Non Sequitur #37 : 23.11.2005
According to a report which appeared in the newspaper Malta Today of 20 November 2005, the European Commission has awarded a EUR 565,000 contract to the media agency of the governing Christian Democratic Party in Malta (Media Link Communications) to provide a daily press review to the European Commission Representation in Malta.
Commissioner Wallström’s spokesperson Mikolaj Dowgielewicz was reported to have replied to the Malta Today queries by saying: “The fact that a tenderer was owned by a political party was not considered to be a situation of conflict of interests as defined in the tender specifications.”
Report in Malta Today
Postform Post by Antoine Cassar
Alternattiva Press Release
The European Commission
The Nationalist Party
Back to the Future:
J'Accuse : Non Sequitur #57 :02.07.06
from The Times
EU terminates PN contract
Ivan Camilleri in Brussels
The European Commission has decided to terminate the contract for the provision of media monitoring services involving a Nationalist Party company, Media.Link Communications Ltd, only a year after awarding the contract following a competitive tendering process.
The contract, a standard one issued in every member state, was awarded to Media.Link last summer and was for a period of one year with a possibility of renewal for the following four. It was divided into two separate awards, one for the written press review at an annual value of €44,300 (Lm19,260) and another for the audiovisual review at €64,750 (Lm28,152).
The decision to terminate the contract was taken a few days ago after a number of articles appeared in the Maltese press criticising the Commission for giving the contract to a PN-owned company. The criticism mainly addressed the issues of conflict of interest and indirect party funding. The decision was confirmed to The Times yesterday by Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, spokesman for Margot Wallstrom, European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communications.
Last January, in response to the criticism levelled at the Commission, the Brussels executive had announced its intention to hold an independent audit of the procedure used in the adjudication of this tender. The audit was to have been carried out by an independent company from outside the commission services. Although admitting that the audit promised by the Commission was never carried out, Mr Dowgielewicz said the Commission still decided to terminate the contract.
He said the Commission had launched a restricted call for tenders to a number of audit companies to have this audit done but none was interested.
"The Commission has taken a decision to terminate both contracts (written and audiovisual) for the Maltese press review. These will be terminated at the end of their first year which comes to an end in July and September respectively." Asked to clarify the reason for the decision even though no proper audit was carried out, the Commission's spokesman said that although the Commission was not obliged to give any explanations, the real reason was "the sensitivities surrounding this contract, especially because of the political nature of the company involved and the various articles appearing in the local press".
Mr Dowgielewicz said the Commission would like to have a similar service following the termination of this contract, however no decision had yet been taken on whether or not to initiate another tendering process. Although it terminated the contract, the Commission had defended its position and denied any wrongdoing throughout.
Ms Wallstrom had told the European Parliament that Media.Link fulfilled all the criteria and offered the best value for money. She had also stated at the time of the award, the Commission knew that the company was owned by a political party and that this was not considered to be a conflict of interest.