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Iraq: EU Warns U.S. On Reconstruction Contracts

Brussels, 11 December 2003 (NCA) -- The European Commission is warning of possible World Trade Organization action against a U.S. decision to bar nations that opposed the Iraq war from bidding for reconstruction contracts in the country. European Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen today said the commission, the executive arm of the European Union, will examine the 26 contracts awarded by U.S. authorities to see if they were in line with the trade organization's rules on government procurement.

Kemppinen called the U.S. decision "unjustified" and a "political mistake."

"We deeply regret that decision. We believe that the decision is difficult to accept and unjustified. Furthermore, it is a political mistake because it sends a most unhelpful signal at a time when the international community is constructively working on making Iraq an open, transparent, democratic, and prosperous country," Kemppinen said.

Russia, France, and Germany have all criticized the U.S. decision, which eliminates them from bidding for more than $18 billion in rebuilding projects.