02 May 2008 | Paul Snell
Bulgaria has become the latest country to sign up to the pan-European agreement on defence procurement.
It leaves Romania as the only member of the European Defence Agency (EDA), which drew up the code, yet to join. The decision to join will allow suppliers from 25 EDA member states to bid for Bulgarian military contracts.
"New member states and their defence industries have an important role to play," said Alexander Weis, EDA chief executive. "The regime is designed to deliver better value for customers in all countries and to provide new opportunities for industries from all parts of the EU."
The voluntary code, which came into effect in July 2006, was established to open up the European defence procurement market (Web news, 30 June 2006). Most defence projects are exempt from standard EU procurement regulations under Article 296 of the EC Treaty, but this agreement hopes to make contract opportunities transparent and fair for suppliers across the continent.
The agreement allows signed-up members to post tenders worth more than ?1 million (£778,000) on a website, the European Bulletin Board, operated by the EDA. The group said 260 tenders have been advertised since the code was launched in 2006, with a quarter of those contracts awarded to foreign suppliers.