How Romania want to lose Naval Group at all costs in favor of Damen

For unclear reasons, Romania is desperately trying to win the Dutch Damen at the expense of Naval Group … who won the tender. Paris is ready to step up to defend the offer of naval group.

Naval Group could certainly lose the tender for the sale of four Gowind corvettes it has yet won in Romania, according to sources concurring. How is it possible? The Romanian government, which is expected to announce the selection of a supplier on January 12, has long been rolling for Damen, a partner in the Romanian yard Galati, of which 49% of the capital is held by the Dutch naval group, alongside the Romanian state (51%). This is particularly the case of one of the most powerful men in Romania, the Social Democrat President of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea, who makes and defeats governments.

But a very, very big grain of sand has stopped the process as imagined by Bucharest: Naval Group, in cooperation with the Romanian yard SNC, presented to the bad surprise of the Romanian authorities in early December when opening the envelopes, the best-performing offer in terms of price for four Gowind corvettes manufactured in Romania: 1.2 billion euros, against 1.25 billion for Damen and 1.34 billion for Fincantieri. A real icy shower for Bucharest, which already had to cancel a process of acquiring four corvettes for procedural irregularities committed in favor of Damen in 2016.

Find a reason to bring down Naval Group
For the Romanians, the result of early December is messy. All the more so since the Romanian press’s revelations of the alleged corruption of Damen have flourished in many articles in recent weeks. For the government, the whole question is to find a parade to legally assign the contract to Damen and dress this decision by artifice. It is from here that some maneuvers (audit, prolonged examination of the file …) come to make Naval Group fall or, at best, bog down the file and thus avoid a victory of the French naval group. In Paris, this situation and these behaviors that crossed the white line exasperated at the highest level. Moreover, it is expected, according to our information, that Florence Parly calls her new counterpart Gabriel Les, appointed November 20 last instead of Mihai Fifor, an opponent of Liviu Dragnea. A timely discussion as the new Romanian Defense Minister announced on 3 December, during a political broadcast on B1TV, that the government’s decision would be unveiled on 12 January. The Minister of defense should remind Bucharest that France is very attached to the rules of international law. In Romania, former President Traian Băsescu (2004-2014), accused on November 20, via his Facebook account, Liviu Dragnea, to want to influence the tender.

Is France a partner for Romania?
In 2008, France and Romania concluded a strategic partnership. A partnership that has been reaffirmed several times, and again recently. During the visit of the Romanian President to Paris on November 27, Klaus Iohannis, the two countries, in a context of increasing instability of our strategic environment, explained that “the strengthening of cooperation in the field of defense will continue to represent a priority, based on the commitments made by both countries in the EU and NATO framework and in support of the objectives of the EU-NATO Strategic Partnership “. In addition, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, went to Romania on 24 and 25 August 2017.

The corvette case is also reminiscent of another complicated case, which has become clearer in recent weeks: Airbus Helicopters. Bucharest has been walking for two years with the builder in Marignane while dredging openly in parallel, the American Bell helicopters, while Romania has forged a cooperation of almost 50 years with Airbus Helicopters, The Romanians had been in March in the United States, which has two military bases in Romania. Specifically, they went to Bell’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to the American manufacturer’s factory in Amarillo, and finally to Pendleton Camp to talk to the Marines about the Viper. According to our information, the Romanians have backtracked.

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