Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed an apparent change of heart by the EU Commission, which now suggests ferry services in the Clyde and Hebrides may be exempt from competitive tendering requirements in future.
Scotland's Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, today announced a policy review to consider in detail the legal and other implications of what this means for the procurement of ferry services.
The European Commission has informed the Scottish Government of their view that an exemption to current state aid rules could now allow the direct award of ferry services contracts to a public sector operator.
The contract for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service was most recently awarded to Caledonian MacBrayne in 2015.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“It is very welcome news that the Commission has responded to the Scottish Government’s enquiry on this issue.
“The Scottish Government has said repeatedly that it would prefer not to have to tender these services.
“In 2005 the Labour /Lib Dem Scottish Executive ruled out any alternatives to tendering. In 2012 the European Commission again emphasised the need for a tendering process and made similar points in 2014.
“It was vital that the Scottish Government complied with the law as it stood, in order to safeguard the recover levels of investment that have been put into our ferry services.
"This new stance from Europe, however, changes things, and I hope it will mean a simpler situation for ferry services in the islands in future. The Scottish Government has been very clear that the views of communities will be at the heart of any future decisions.”