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By | John Oates 13th October 2004 14:12

EC widens Intel-only contracts probe

France and Finland in the frame...

The European Commission has told France, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden provide more evidence on how their governments procured computer equipment. The formal request is the first step of an infringement process which could end with the countries being brought before the Court of Appeal. They have two months to answer the charges.

In May this year, France removed a stipulation in contracts that government IT hardware projects must be based on Intel-based kit. However, the move failed to stop the EC investigation. Sweden has also voluntarily removed an Intel-only stipulation, while Italy and Germany struck out similar clauses, following EC intervention.

The EC's case hinges on procurement documents which asked for "Intel processors" or "Intel or equivalent" processors. EC procurement rules state that a specific brand should be mentioned in public supply contracts only if there is no other way to describe what is required. The Commission also complained that procurement requests for processors at specific clock speeds are a barrier to intra-Community trade. It notes that clock speeds alone are not an accurate benchmark of computer performance.

The EC letters are formal requests for information. The governments concerned have two months to reply after which the EC may demand they change certain contracts if they believe procurement rules have been broken.

More details available on the Commission's website website . ®

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