Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit and Public Procurement

So now the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has voted to leave the European Union, what will change in our Public Procurement?
In the short term, nothing much.  What do I mean by the short term?  Well at least two years, which is how long it will take Article 50 to be applied to allow us to leave.  Bearing in mind the politics, than probably means at least 2 and a half years so 2019.  Some commentators are saying 2020 would be more realistic, but who knows? 

What will happen then?  A lot will depend on what happens in the intervening time.  Will the UK stay together or break up?  Which could lead to quite different procurement regimes in the 4 major countries (which are at the moment only a bit different).

It is likely that whatever else happens England (largest country in the UK) will be pulling out of the EU procurement rules, so what will happen in England?

Well again, possibly not a lot for a while.  The UK is a signatory to the World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement which underpins much of the EU procurement regulations.  Given that outside of the EU we will probably use the WTO in redeveloping our trading relationships with other countries, it is fairly unlikely that we shall pull out of that agreement (at least not quickly).

The WTO GPA sets in place a series of rules for procurement above a certain value or threshold, which is the same as the one in the EU regulations.  So thresholds and processes will remain in place, but might be amended.

There would be no ability to appeal to the European Court of Justice as EU procurement directives would not apply (unless that is part of our settlement in leaving).

Could we have a Buy British or Buy English campaign?  Probably not because it would clash with the WTO GPA, and anyhow could have negative consequences on Value for Money (if the foreign providers do not provide better VfM we would not contract with them).

Things like the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) that came in in April 2016 but still has not actually surfaced, may change some time in the future.

So lots or uncertainty, but given that we need rules for public procurement to avoid corruption and to obtain value for Money, and that we are already signed up to rules for this, and that changing public procurement policy is unlikely to be top of the agenda for a post Brexit country, I think we shall only be seeing small changes for the next 5 years or so.  After that, who knows?  As they say, a week is a long time in politics - let alone 5 years.  In the meantime PCR 2015 stays in place.

So there is still a point in going to EU Procurement training (well, I would say that wouldn't I?)  as nothing is going to change for a few years.  After that, then I am sure we will have new public procurement training to clarify the new rules as and when they emerge.

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