As we’re sure you’ll be aware, on Friday 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU), after being part of the union for 47 years. So, what has actually changed? And, how does Brexit impact public procurement now, and in the long-term?
Well, we’ve done all the reading for you, collating it into a simple overview article and answering questions like these that continue to be raised across businesses in the UK.
Post-Brexit: the transition period
Now that the UK has officially left the EU we have entered into a transition period. As it stands, the transition period lasts until, at least, 31st December 2020. During this time public procurement remains business as usual, with no changes.
Whilst in this transition period, the EU Directives will continue to apply, with all rights and obligations still in place. This will continue to apply to any public procurement which is launched on or prior to the end of the transition period, 31st December 2020.
These rules also apply and remain for frameworks that are in place beyond the transition date, or to any framework that has been processed prior to the end of the year date. This would mean that many frameworks will continue without any impact into the middle of the decade.
It’s also worth highlighting that there is every possibility that the transition period could be extended beyond the 31st December 2020. This would be possible via Parliamentary approval.
What happens to public procurement after the transition period?
What happens after the transition period is still unknown. As discussed, there is the potential extension of this, along with the ongoing negotiations and discussions during this time to reach a ‘deal’ of any trade agreements, should one even be desired, or agreed.
At the end of the transition period the UK government then has the freedom to rewrite the procurement regulations, which it may drive forward to achieve.
Either way, it’s unlikely any changes are going to happen or impact public procurement in the next year or two. As we know, and have experienced, these things take time.
What are the long-term implications of Brexit on public procurement?
Again, this is unknown. However, recent reports would suggest that the UK government is acting upon the freedom against the EU, with the aim of simplifying the public procurement process and better supporting UK businesses.
Boris Johnson, along with both Dominic Cummings and Sajid Javid, have all spoken out in recent months about the complexity and burden of time that the current public procurement regulations have.
It would appear they are working closely to review and potentially make some changes to the existing public procurement regulations.
A key change which has been announced as being in development, again suggesting the plan to break away from the EU, is to send notices to a new UK e-notification service instead of the EU Publications Office.
Essentially, this could be in preparation of a no-deal scenario, which would result in contracting authorities no longer having access to the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) where EU tenders get published as part of the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU).
More information regarding this change and the development of the UK e-notification service, can be found on the government website.
Certainly within the short term there will be no changes made that could impact the process of public procurement. In terms of the long-term outlook, this remains uncertain as negotiations continue between the UK and EU throughout the transition period.
We will all sit back with business as usual, and an eye and ear close to the ground for any updates or announcements over the coming months.
It will be an interesting watch, and as always we will continue to keep you up to date with any news.