The current Dunoon ferry tendering exercise has been suspended pending the review
reports in nine months.
Retendering of Serco-run Orkney and Shetland services is expected to be postponed
from its spring start date.
Another option to take ferry operations under state control opens up in the aftermath
of Brexit when EU laws need not apply to the UK.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary said: “We welcome the transport minister’s review
which has the potential to achieve meaningful change to the long term benefit of
Scotland’s ferry passengers and staff.
“The news that the European Commission has accepted that Scotland’s publicly contracted
ferry services can be exempted from destabilising competition law bodes extremely
well for the future stability of these lifeline public services.
“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and others on how such an
exemption will work in practice.”
Comhairle leader, Angus Campbell, said: “It is very pleasing to hear that our island
ferry services may no longer need to go out to tender, allowing more resources to
be spent on services rather than expensive tendering processes.”
MSP, Alasdair Allan, said the Scottish Government has said repeatedly that it would
prefer not to have to tender these services.
He said the Labour /Lib Dem Scottish Executive took in ferry tendering in 2005 and
the EC “emphasised the need for a tendering process.”
He said: “It was vital that the Scottish Government complied with the law as it stood,
in order to safeguard the recover levels of investment that have been put into our
"This new stance from Europe, however, changes things, and I hope it will mean a
simpler situation for ferry services in the islands in future.”
Seafarers’ union welcomes ferry tendering u-turn
5 February 2017
Seafarers’ union, RMT, has welcomed an European Commission u-turn which now declares
that lifeline Scottish ferry services can be exempted from re-tendering rules.
It means ferries could be nationalised after the Scottish Government backed a state
The changes follow a joint approach to the EU from the Scottish Government and the
RMT, making the case for a Teckal exemption for Scottish ferry services.
The government says it is minded to run ferry services through an in-house operator
and has set up a policy review.