Romania stokes EU fight as it announces plan to buy F-16s

By bne IntelliNews June 20, 2013

bne -

Romania's leftist government has approved a controversial plan to buy second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Portugal, as it bids to bring its air force up to Nato standards. The announcement flies in the face of the EU's demands to CEE member states that they must hold open tenders for defence procurement contracts.

The defence ministry said on June 19 that it will buy 12 jets from Portugal in a deal that will see it pay a little over €600m, including maintenance, in installments through to 2017. This decision goes against the wishes of the European Commission, which has been pushing EU rules at Romania - and other CEE countries - that state they must hold transparent tenders for such defence procurement. That would allow other manufacturers, such as the EU's Saab Gripen, to compete for the deals.

bne revealed in September that the EU executive had sent letters to the governments of Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic highlighting the legislation. Brussels' move was the latest in a long fight with all three member states over plans to possibly conclude major deals to buy supersonic fighter jets without such competition. However, Bucharest is still clearly intent on extending what is now a three-year battle to try to avoid the legislation. That stubborn stance only goes to raise suspicion of high-level corruption connected to the deal.

The affair began in March 2010, when the Romanian president's office announced that it had been decided to send a proposal to parliament to acquire 24 used F-16 fighters from the US Air Force. That statement followed a meeting of the country's Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) - an unelected advisory board that has no executive powers, but is very influential by dint of its direct appointment by the president.

In subsequent interviews, President Traian Basescu said it was purely an economic decision, yet that didn't appear to stand up to much scrutiny. Saab Gripen quickly released its proposal, claiming it would offer 24 brand-new multi-role jets, for the same price of around €1bn that the used planes made by its US competitor were set to cost.

Saab Gripen was joined at the time by Eurofighter in stressing the need for a transparent tender under EU rules. Following heated debates in the Romanian parliament and the media, the decision was shelved a few months later, with the president citing a lack of funds. However, in the subsequent years, Romanian officials have continued to indicate that the plan to buy the F-16s remained alive.

Related Articles

UK demands for EU reform provoke fury in Visegrad

bne IntelliNews - The Visegrad states raised a chorus of objection on November 10 as the UK prime minister demanded his country's welfare system be allowed to discriminate between EU citizens. The ... more

Czech food producer Hame seen next on the menu for Chinese giant

bne IntelliNews - Following a smorgasbord of acquisitions in late summer, China Energy Company Limited (CEFC) is eyeing yet another small Czech purchase, with food ... more

INTERVIEW: Babis slams coalition partners, but Czech govt seems safe for now

Benjamin Cunningham in Prague - Even as the Czech governing coalition remains in place and broadly popular, tensions between Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Finance Minister Andrej Babis remain ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or purchase 12 months full website access including the bne Magazine for just $119/year.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.

Dismiss