Brussels, 9 March 2010 - The European Commission takes note of the decision announced on 8th March by Northrop Grumman/EADS not to submit a bid to the US Department of Defence contract for the US Air Force’s aerial refuelling tanker programme.

"This is an unfortunate day for the prospects of a more transparent transatlantic defence procurement market. In the current situation, it would appear that the chances of a level playing field in this area are reduced.", stated Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

In December 2009, Northrop Grumman/EADS expressed serious concerns to the Department of Defence and the US Air Force on the proposed acquisition criteria for the contract.

The European Commission is concerned about the extent to which a level playing field for transatlantic defence procurement remains in place in the event that the criteria favoured Boeing's offer of a smaller aircraft and left little room for adequate recognition of the greater capabilities of a larger tanker,

It is noteworthy that in February 2008 Northrop Grumman / EADS was selected and awarded the contract to provide aerial refuelling tankers for the US Air Force in a fair and transparent competition. This was a positive sign for free and open competition across the Atlantic and seemed to indicate that when European industry teams up with US industry and they are allowed to compete fairly, they could succeed. This award was subsequently cancelled at the end of 2008.

The US Defence trade balance with the EU has traditionally been significantly in the US' favour. In 2008 the US exported $5 billion and imported only $2.2bn worth of defence material, in line with a historic ratio of double exports to imports.

The Commission will further analyse the details of this decision and any subsequent reaction and consider the appropriate steps to take.

Source: ec.europa.eu


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