EU 'would not prevent' government Thameslink rethink

Bombardier workers outside Parliament Bombardier workers travelled to Parliament to protest at the contract decision

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The European Commission has confirmed it would not punish the UK government if it restarted the tendering process for the £1.4bn Thameslink contract.

Derby trainmaker Bombardier is cutting 1,400 jobs after German firm Siemens was named as the government's preferred bidder for the deal in June.

Campaigners have since urged the government to reverse its decision to help save British jobs.

The commission said it only required the process to be fair and open.

A high-profile campaign featuring politicians, unions and workers started after Bombardier was denied the contract to build train carriages for the government's new Thameslink route.

The government has always stated that under EU procurement rules it was obliged to choose the bid which offered British taxpayers the best value for money.

'Privileged position'

The commission's response followed a letter from East Midlands Labour MEP Glenis Willmott asking whether the government would face censure under EU law if it revisited the decision.

In a written reply, it said: "EU public procurement legislation allows contracting authorities to choose the best offer in the context of a tendering procedure, as long as their decisions are taken on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis.

"In this context, the EU public procurement rules do not prevent a contracting authority from relaunching the tendering procedure for the award of a contract."

Mrs Willmott said: "Thousands of highly skilled workers could lose their jobs at Bombardier, and the transport secretary [Justine Greening] is in a privileged position to save them, and the answer from the EU Commission gives her the green light to do so"

However the government has now said it had no intention of restarting the tendering process as it could delay the project by several years and leave it open to legal action from Siemens.

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