- Export to PDF
- Get the short link of this page
- Share this page onTwitterFacebookLinkedin
- EN English
Decision of the European Ombudsman on complaint 78/99/OV against the European Parliament
Case 78/99/OV - Opened on Wednesday | 03 February 1999 - Decision on Tuesday | 17 October 2000
Strasbourg, 17 October 2000
Dear Mr B.,
On 23 December 1998 you made a complaint to the European Ombudsman on behalf of Brouwers Interieurs B.V. concerning an alleged failure of information of the European Parliament with regard to the tender procedure (PE-MOB 97/1) and an alleged failure to pay a bill for damaged and missing furniture.
On 3 February 1999, I forwarded the complaint to the President of the European Parliament. The Parliament sent its opinion on 2 June 1999 and I forwarded it to you with an invitation to make observations, if you so wished. On 6 September 1999, I received your observations on the Parliament's opinion. On 12 October 1999 I wrote again to the President of the European Parliament in order to ask for further observations on your second allegation. The Parliament sent its additional opinion on 2 December 1999 and I forwarded it to you with an invitation to make observations. On 31 December 1999 I received your observations on the Parliament's additional opinion.
I am writing now to let you know the results of the inquiries that have been made.
According to the complainant, the relevant facts were as follows:
The complainant, a Dutch firm, participated in the tender procedure launched by the European Parliament for furniture for the bars and restaurants of building D3 of the Espace Léopold in Brussels (ref. PE MOB 97/1). The complaint concerns the way this tender procedure was run:
The complainant made an offer on 31 May 1997. On 19 June 1997 the complainant was invited to display its furniture for evaluation by the Board of Quaestors of the Parliament, and this until 26 June 1997. On 25 June 1997 the complainant was informed that the furniture had to be displayed until 11 July 1997. On 22 August 1997 the complainant asked whether a decision had been taken on the tender and when the displayed furniture could be recuperated. The complainant only recuperated its furniture on 28 August 1997. On 5 September 1997, the Parliament decided that the complainant, together with 19 other candidates, should submit new offers before 3 October 1997.
On 13 November 1997 the complainant received a new invitation to display its furniture from 1 December 1997 on for a period of maximum 3 to 5 weeks. On 28 January and 4 February 1998 the complainant sent faxes to the Parliament in order to inquire when it could recuperate its furniture. The complainant was asked to leave its furniture for some more time, as the decision was to be taken on 16 March 1998. In March 1998 the company asked again what had been decided. The reply of the Parliament was that it would be decided later, in April 1998. Finally the furniture was displayed for 23 weeks and some pieces of furniture disappeared, while others got damaged. The complainant sent a bill to the Parliament for the damaged or missing pieces of furniture. However, the Parliament did not pay the bill. The complainant therefore complained to the Ombudsman that 1) it was not kept informed about the evolution of the tender procedure and about the prolongation of the period during which the furniture had to be displayed (23 weeks instead of 3-5 weeks), and that 2) the bill for damaged and lost furniture had not been paid by the Parliament.
The Parliament's opinion
As regards the first allegation, the Parliament observed that the delay in the tender procedure was caused by a number of factors: The samples had to be viewed and approved not only by the internal control committee, but also by the College of Quaestors, as the furniture in question was intended for use by Members. The timetable of this procedure was clearly set out in the written reply to MEP Plooij-Van Gorsel whom the complainant had contacted.
The simultaneous complex calls for tender engendered by the purchase of two new building in Brussels and Strasbourg meant that the furniture division was under severe pressure. This situation was compounded by the absence, due to severe illness, of the official initially responsible for this file. The most regrettable consequence of these difficulties was that the firms, including the complainant, were not kept informed of the delays. The Parliament wished to apologise for this to the complainant and to ask for his understanding.
As regards the alleged delay in payment for the damage caused to the furniture, the Parliament stated that its insurance did not cover the damage, and because the furniture was on the European Parliament's property, it was not covered by the complainant's insurance. However, on 27 January 1999, the Authorising Officer instructed to pay the bill for the damaged furniture and the amount was received by the complainant on 29 January 1999. The Parliament's furniture division was subsequently in telephone contact with the complainant who confirmed its satisfaction in this matter.
The Parliament finally observed that, having installed the necessary structures ensuring that all bidders are kept informed in writing in the event of any delays in a call for tender, it has now set up sufficient safeguards to ensure that similar problems will not occur in the future.
The complainant's observations
The complainant stated that the matter of the payment of the damaged furniture had been settled to its satisfaction. The complainant however observed that it was still not informed by the Parliament whether its offer would lead to a contract or not.
The Ombudsman wrote on 12 October 1999 to the Parliament asking for an additional opinion on the allegation that the complainant was still not informed about the outcome of the tender procedure, namely whether its offer had been retained or not.
The Parliament's second opinion
The Parliament observed that the tenderers whose offer had not been retained had not been informed of the result of the tender procedure. Measures have since been taken in order to guarantee that all the tenderers are informed of the outcome of their offer. The Parliament regretted this fact and presented its apologies to the complainant. However, the complainant has since then been informed of the final decision.
The complainant's additional observations
On 20 December 1999, the complainant send a copy of a letter dated 15 November 1999 it received from the Parliament's administration by which the Parliament informed it that his offer had not been retained.
1 The alleged failure of information on the tender procedure and on the prolongation of the display of the furniture
1.1 The complainant alleged that he was not kept informed about the evolution of the tender procedure and about the prolongation of the period during which the furniture had to be displayed (23 weeks instead of 3-5 weeks). The Parliament explained that the delay was caused by the fact that the samples had to be viewed and approved by both the internal control committee and the College of Quaestors. Moreover, the simultaneous complex calls for tenders for the two new buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg put severe pressure on the furniture division, and the official initially responsible for the file was absent. The Parliament however apologised to the complainant. As regards the failure of information on the outcome of the tender procedure, the Parliament observed that the tenderers had indeed not been informed of the result, but that measures have since been taken to guarantee that all tenderers are informed. Here also the Parliament expressed its apologies to the complainant.
1.2 Principles of good administration require that the EU institutions and bodies inform the citizens concerned in due time about the decisions and the administrative measures they take. If, because of the complexity of the issue, the matter can not be decided upon within a reasonable time-limit, the institution or body should inform the citizen thereof as soon as possible.
1.3 In the present case it appears that the complainant made an offer on 31 May 1997 and was only informed by the Parliament on 15 November 1999, i.e. more than two years later, that its offer was not retained. The Parliament did not keep the complainant informed about the delays which occurred in this tender procedure, including those related to the exposition of the furniture. The Parliament however pointed out that it had installed the necessary structures ensuring that all bidders are kept informed in writing in the event of any delays in a call for tender, and that sufficient safeguards now exist to ensure that similar problems will not occur in the future. The Ombudsman therefore considers that no further inquiries are necessary into this aspect of the complaint.
2 The alleged non payment of the bill for damaged and disappeared furniture
2.1 The complainant alleged that the bill for damaged and disappeared furniture had not been paid by the Parliament. The Parliament observed that on 27 January 1999, the Authorising Officer instructed to pay the bill for the damaged furniture and the amount was received by the complainant on 29 January 1999. The Parliament's furniture division was subsequently in telephone contact with the complainant who confirmed its satisfaction in this matter.
2.2 In his observations, the complainant stated that this matter had been settled to its satisfaction. The Ombudsman therefore notes that that Parliament has taken steps to settle the matter and has satisfied the complainant.
On the basis of the European Ombudsman's inquiries into part 1 of this complaint, there appears to have been no maladministration by the European Parliament.
As regards the second allegation, it appears from the European Parliament's opinion and the complainant's observations that the Parliament has taken steps to settle the matter and has thereby satisfied the complainant. The Ombudsman has therefore decided to close the case.
The President of the European Parliament will also be informed of this decision.
- Export to PDF
- Get the short link of this page
- Share this page onTwitterFacebookLinkedin