19 January 2009 | Paul Snell
The European Parliament has voted in favour of opening up the continent's defence market.
MEPS voted 597-69, with 37 abstentions, in favour of the new rules, which will harmonise the approach to purchasing defence and security products and services. The directive will require EU members to open up their procurement procedures to suppliers from other member states.
The new rules will be applied to defence and security service and supply contracts worth more than ?412,000 (£372,332) and works contracts above ?5.15 million (£4.65 million). Member states will have two years to amend their own laws to comply with the directive.
Defence purchasing was previously regulated by standard EU procurement rules, but these have often caused confusion relating to how exemptions should be applied. The new directive still exempts contracts vital to national security or intelligence.
The market for defence and security in the EU is estimated to be worth around ?90 billion (£81.3 billion) a year.
The approval was welcomed by the European Defence Agency, which established a voluntary code where countries agreed to open contracts to fellow EU members in July 2006.