Implications of Brexit for Public Procurement – A University View

At last week’s excellent LUPC and SUPC university procurement conference, I participated in a panel discussion titled “What are the implications of Brexit?” – for public procurement of course was the meaning of that, not a discussion of our fishing indust


David Hansom, a partner with law firm Veale Wasbrough Vizards and a real expert on EU regulations joined me and at the last minute we co-opted Anj Cooke, Head of Procurement at University of Bristol onto the panel to give us a real live practitioner viewpoint!

David ran through what might happen from a legal point of view post-Brexit. Nothing much initially, was his comment, as the EU procurement rules are adopted already into UK law but around 2020 might be a reasonable estimate of when the Government might look at the procurement regime again and any changes to the regulations might come into place.

One thing all the experts agree on is the uncertainty that would follow the decision, and procurement law is no exception. One option in the event of a Brexit would be the “Norwegian model” – that means the EU procurement rules apply in full and Norway has no scope to influence the rules (which sounds like the worst of all worlds, to be honest). But there might be the possibility of a variant approach where UK is able to have some influence? We wouldn’t know that of course until real negotiations started, and I suspect procurement would not be top of the list of topics, as we’ve pointed out previously.

Or we might choose to follow the Swiss model, David suggested – that country is not part of the European Economic Area but is part of the European Free Trade Area (“EFTA”) and has bi-lateral treaties on a range of areas, including procurement. That would mean following WTO rules and indeed the Swiss regulations are pretty similar to those of the EU.

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