June 29 was the deadline for submitting offers on a very large, possibly the largest, Commission tender for monitoring LIFE programme. LIFE is the flagship initiative of the European environmental policy and is now under the direct responsibility of the independent agency EASME, with Director General Julien Guerrier at the helm. The programme has been running for 25 years and has so far carried out more than 4,500 projects throughout Europe.

This the good news, but now let’s look at the trickier part of the equation.

This tender has been dominated for 25 years by a single consortium of companies. Last time, in 2014, five consortia tried to bid, but to no one’s surprise, none of them except the same old good one – managed to even pass the technical evaluation save for the aforementioned consortium.

With Europsceptic parties increasingly becoming part of governments in the EU, national scrutiny of such programmes is becoming increasingly common. Kassandra spoke to an EU source near Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s Lega party, who commented that the cooking of tenders is old news – “but we are now in a better position to change the problematic status quo.”

The programme is worth more than €80 million. A few months ago, the European Commission’s Director General of DG RTD, Robert-Jan Smits, was moved to an advisory post. This came after a marathon of Kassandra reporting found problematic administration of much smaller sized projects.

Being in the home-stretch for the European election in which the future of the very Union is in jeopardy makes such issues ever more dangerous for the European Commission. We will closely follow what happens with the new tender. Perhaps next week, even before the end of the evaluation, Kassandra will be able to tell you the winner and much more!