Monday

20th Aug 2018

Investigation

Controversial British firm wins EU security job in Gaza

  • Israeli bomb damage at UN-run school in Gaza from the eight-day war in 2012 (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU diplomatic service has confirmed that British company Page Protective Services (PPS) will guard its people in Gaza and the West Bank despite the firm's poor track record.

A note published on the EU's Tenders Electronic Daily website on Saturday (27 April) says PPS will be paid €13.4 million plus VAT to do the work over the next four years.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The fee is almost double what was foreseen in the original tender, published last July, which said the contract would be worth between €6 million and €8 million.

The EU has 16 diplomatic staff and another 50 or so officials stationed in Jerusalem.

Their activities in the West Bank are considered to be fairly low risk.

But their occasional trips to Gaza, which hosts radical Islamist groups and which is prone to sudden eruptions of fighting with Israel, are more dangerous.

One EU diplomat recalled that his first-ever visit to the Gaza strip coincided with an Israeli air strike.

"Within hours of arriving, I found myself in a car holding a wounded man with blood everywhere. I had to ask myself the question there and then: am I really cut out for this?" he told this website.

Just two other security companies put in bids for the Gaza/West bank tender.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) said on Monday it was not ready to give an immediate comment on the PPS award.

But its decision caused surprise in the private security sector, given PPS' poor track record on EU contracts in Afghanistan and in Gaza/West Bank itself.

PPS has been guarding EU diplomats in Afghanistan since 2008 and did Gaza/West Bank between 2005 and 2010.

In Afghanistan, it failed to supply the right body armour and rifles to its guards for more than one year after the contract began.

It also failed to supply proof of work done for around €1 million worth of invoices and paid a €300,000 penalty in lieu of the full amount.

It was awarded a new contract for Afghanistan earlier this year, but then the EEAS changed its mind, saying PPS was non-compliant with the "necessary conditions."

In its past work in Gaza/West Bank, EU diplomats said its drivers did not know their way around Gaza and that they abused local Palestinian staff.

They also questioned its attempts to avoid paying social security contributions to Israel on the grounds that its Palestinian guards did not recognise Israeli sovereignty.

The then EU envoy to Jerusalem, Christian Berger, wrote in an internal letter in 2009 that he was "very concerned about their [PPS] actual performance" and that the firm's behaviour "has led to reputational damage for the commission," referring to the European Commission, which managed foreign delegations before the EEAS was created.

Berger repeated his criticism in 2010.

The EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf, in January this year also drafted a critical report on PPS' work in Afghanistan. The text is confidential, but the EEAS says Olaf found no evidence of fraud per se.

A second Olaf investigation into PPS past work in Gaza/West Bank is currently ongoing.

For his part, PPS chief Stuart Page told EUobserver by email on Tuesday that his firm is still in the running for the new Kabul tender.

"The EEAS has chosen to halt the procurement process for the award of a new contract in Afghanistan strictly in accordance with its procurement procedures. Those companies (including this company) which prequalified in June 2012 have been invited to participate in a negotiated procedure for the award of a new contract," he said.

He described PPS' relationship with the EU institutions over the past few years as "entirely professional and fair."

This story was updated on 30 April to add the comment by Page

EU men with guns: A comedy of errors

The EU foreign service just did a U-turn on a €50mn tender for bodyguards in Kabul, with leaked documents posing questions how a British firm with a frightening track record won it in the first place.

EU bins security contract, annoys Libya

The EU foreign service has cancelled a €10 million contract with British security firm G4S in a minor diplomatic dispute with Libya.

Opinion

EU-Gaza mission on the beach

The EU border crossing mission to Gaza risks becoming another symbol of waste and missed opportunity in the region.

Very private security

EU diplomats work in some of the world's most dangerous places. The men who guard them cost millions each year. But are they any good? Does the EU award the contracts fairly? Two recent fiascos pose the questions. EUobserver investigates.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

Exclusive

Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs

Wegate.eu, which received €1.2m in EU money since its launch almost two years ago, has less than a thousand registered users - from a possible target audience of at least 10 million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us