Having implemented on schedule Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC (“the Public Procurement Directive”) and following the NATO Summit in Warsaw 2016, the Bulgarian Government is about to initiate its biggest military procurement campaign budgeted well in excess of 1 billion EUR. The program will include two separate lots: acquisition of a new type of military fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force (new/second hand) and procurement of two multi-functional military patrol ships for the Bulgarian Navy.
The consultation process on these projects started in March 2016, following which the Bulgarian Government approved the Programme for the development of the defence capabilities of the Bulgarian armed forces to 2020 and the Plan for the development of the defence capabilities by means of Decision No 238 dated 4 April 2016. On 15 April 2016 the Defence Committee of the Bulgarian Parliament provided its consent for the Governmental Report on the condition of the defence capabilities in 2015 to proceed for approval by the main session of the Bulgarian Parliament. On 27 May 2016 the Parliamentary Committee for Budget and Finance approved the Report on the acquisition of a new type of military fighter aircraft. The decisions of both these Committees have been passed with no Member of Parliament opposing the campaign. On 2 June 2016 the Bulgarian Parliament adopted with an overwhelming majority two separate decisions for investment costs in the field of defence for the “Acquisition of a new type of military fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force” and “Acquisition of two multi-functional military patrol ships for the Bulgarian Navy”. It has been pointed out that Bulgaria has been a member of NATO for 12 years now and the modernization of Bulgarian defence capabilities is long overdue.
Following the successful adaptation of the strategic political decisions for the biggest military procurement campaign of Bulgaria to date, the Bulgarian Ministry of defence is to prepare for the tenders, which in accordance with the statements made by the Minister of Defence Mr. Nikolay Nenchev are due to start “within a few weeks”. Both the deputy minister in charge for the campaign, Mr. Dimitar Kuyumdziev, and the General Counsel of the Ministry of Defence, Mrs. Georgica Stoyanova, have been just appointed as members of the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition, which might bring some delay to the launching schedule of the campaign.
Probably the biggest challenges that the Bulgarian Government is facing with the two procurement programmes for the “Acquisition of a new type of military fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force” and for the “Acquisition of two multi-functional military patrol ships for the Bulgarian Navy” are related to the potential difficulties to stipulate the objective criteria for comparison between the offers for new and second-hand equipment (for the first programme) and the growing expectations for localization (for the second campaign). Historically, the focus on the offset requirements has distorted quite a few of these similar campaigns combined with the lack of proper representation by the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence.