On 13th September, the Cabinet Office published guidance on ‘Accessing Public Sector Contracts if there’s no Brexit Deal’. Currently, contracting entities must publish opportunities over the threshold in the Official Journal of the European Union (“OJEU”). UK suppliers can tender for any opportunity in the EU published in the journal.
However, if no Brexit Deal is agreed before the exit date, from 11pm on 29th March 2019, contracting authorities must post notices on a UK-specific e-notification service. The requirement to advertise in Contracts Finder, MOD Defence Contracts Online, Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales and eTenders NI would remain. Any e-senders or e-publishers who publish on behalf of contracting authorities would need to change to the new UK website.
UK suppliers will be able to tender for contracts on this new UK website. The government guidance also states that ‘Suppliers who wish to access contract opportunities from the EU may continue to do so via OJEU/TED.’ They will have the same opportunities as any other third country tenderer.
The guidance notes that existing legislation will be amended to ensure the continued operability of current procurement rules, and that more information will be given regarding ‘ongoing procurement procedures during the handover period’ nearer the time.
Ultimately, the UK is aiming to join the World Trade Organisation’s ‘Agreement on Government Procurement’ (“GPA”) in its own right (rather than as a member of the EU, as it currently does) in order to be able to continue to access the international procurement market.