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Parliamentary questions
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16 June 2020
Joint answer given by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis
on behalf of the European Commission
Question references: P-002277/2020, E-002299/2020, E-002311/2020, E-002337/2020, E-002375/2020, P-002369/2020, P-002465/2020, P-002480/2020, E-002654/2020, E-003013/2020, P-003215/2020

The Commission has championed the sustainable finance agenda since 2016. This has helped make the European Union a global frontrunner in this field. The Commission will continue to drive this agenda forward in Europe and globally. The EU’s aim is to move forward fast but also in a credible manner. The EU policies must therefore be underpinned by solid scientific work and studies. Among many reports that the Commission has commissioned to inform the next steps on sustainable finance is a study awarded to BlackRock.

A committee of five members from different Directorates-General of the Commission evaluated the nine offers received for the study in question. In line with data protection rules applying to the EU institutions(1), the Commission is not in a position to disclose the names and other personal information on the members of the evaluation committee.

In line with the rules of the Financial Regulation, the contract award criterion was the ‘best price-quality ratio’. The tables in the annex provide detailed scores of the seven offers found to be compliant with the minimum requirements of the tender specifications, while protecting the names of the unsuccessful tenderers for commercial reasons.

As the price offer of BlackRock was indeed significantly below the maximum value of the study set by the Commission, in line with the provisions of the Financial Regulation dealing with prices, which appear to be abnormally low, the Commission asked BlackRock for additional information concerning their price offer. The authorising officer did not see any element in the explanations provided that could lead to considering BlackRock’s offer as abnormally low, nor put into doubt the tenderer’s ability to deliver the quality services proposed.

In recommending the award of the contract to BlackRock, the evaluation committee has been particularly attentive to possible professional conflicting interests and has scrupulously applied the relevant provisions of the Financial Regulation. In the light of the specific tasks to be carried out under the study in question, the evaluation committee did not detect any professional conflicting interests between the contractor’s tasks and its current investment practices.

It is the role of the Commission to develop tools and mechanisms for the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the EU banking prudential framework and into banks business strategies and investment policies, after consultation of all stakeholders. The purpose of the study awarded to BlackRock is to identify what the current situation and difficulties are, which is the first step in the development of the future tools and mechanisms.

The Commission had no justifiable reasons to cancel the tender procedure in question (like, for instance, the discovery of an error, irregularities or fraud in the tender procedure). When a tenderer complies with all the exclusion, selection and award criteria (like BlackRock did), there is no legal basis in the Financial Regulation on the basis of which the Commission could refuse signing the contract with the winning tenderer, unless it would decide to cancel the whole tender procedure .

Nevertheless, the Commission will remain vigilant and will follow the progress of the study closely. The Commission stands ready to terminate the contract with the contractor should it not adhere scrupulously to the provisions of the contract. The Commission will only accept BlackRock’s final report if it conforms with all terms and conditions of the contract. The final report will be made public and will become subject to public scrutiny.

For more details on the procedure, which was followed in awarding the contract to BlackRock, the Commission invites the Honourable Members to see the detailed explanation prepared by the Commission services(2).

See annex :  Annex

(1)Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018.
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