House of Commons Library

Brexit: public procurement

Published Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Overview of the expected effects of Brexit on public procurement and future policy choices for the UK.

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Immediately after Brexit, existing UK regulations on procurement – which implement EU directives – will continue to apply. This is true whether the UK ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU or leaves without a deal.

After this, there will be more freedom for the UK to set/change its own procurement rules.

Such freedom to change the rules may be restricted by any international agreements that the UK chooses to make, with the EU and other countries.

There are policy trade-offs here. Like the rules that come with EU membership, such international agreements limit domestic policy choices in various ways – for example they would limit the government’s ability to award contracts solely to British suppliers. However they can ensure that certain public procurement opportunities are opened up to more potential suppliers (in other countries) – potentially leading to better value for money for the public sector in the UK. Such international agreements also open up opportunities for UK businesses to sell to the public sector in other countries.

The UK Government has taken steps to maintain the UK’s membership of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), which involves an ongoing commitment for the UK to open up certain higher value public procurement opportunities to other countries, in exchange for their public procurement markets being opened up in a similar way.

We do not yet know what the UK’s trade relationship will be with the EU after the UK leaves, including in relation to procurement. As well as mutually opening up procurement as parties to the GPA, further commitments could be made as part of a UK-EU trade agreement or another arrangement between the UK and EU.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8390

Author: Ilze Jozepa

Topics: EU law and treaties, Europe, International economic relations, Public administration, Public expenditure, Regulation

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