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October Brexit Round-Up

Globe map of UK and western Europe

With the UK still scheduled to leave the EU on 31st October, the status of negotiations within the EU parliament will be closely watched over the coming days. Today (14th October), the Queen’s Speech to open the new session of the UK Parliament is expected to outline further the Government’s plans for Brexit and the period immediately after exit day. More than three years after the referendum, there is still much to be decided and confirmed.

Ahead of an important week, the latest updates on BiP Solutions’ dedicated Brexit news and resources page cover a range of aspects of Brexit and how it might affect public procurement.

  • Our September Brexit Briefing looks at sources of opportunity for procurement after Brexit – both in the UK and further afield.
  • With the possibility of further debate around the legislation aiming to block any ‘no-deal Brexit’, it remains important for businesses to be clear on what the effects of ‘no-deal’ might be and how they can prepare. Our explainer blog from Phillip Kinnell, Senior Procurement Consultant at the Procurement Advice and Support Service (PASS), examines the legislation that specifically affects procurement in relation to a ‘no-deal Brexit.’ A more in-depth look at the various ways in which ‘no-deal’ might impact procurement, and how businesses can prepare, is available through the recording of our recent webinar led by Phillip, ‘What a No Deal Brexit Could Mean for Public Procurement.’
  • Also on 8th October, the House of Commons (HoC) Research Library published ‘Brexit and UK Defence: An Explainer.’ You can read Defence Online’s detailed blog on the latest updates around the UK’s and EU’s changing relationship in terms of defence here, while the HoC Library report and the Government’s own advice on the defence sector and preparing for Brexit are available in our Resources section.
  • Other sector-specific information available on our Resources page includes guidance for healthcare providers and the space sector. For the latest healthcare news, visit our dedicated healthcare community Health Online.
  • The list of trade agreements with other countries and trading blocs that will take effect when the UK leaves the EU continues to be updated.
  • Our factsheets, ‘Procurement After No Deal’ and ‘Procurement After Brexit: Deal or No Deal’, are still available, and cover the basics of the legislation and necessary preparations for organisations around Brexit. Produced in April and March respectively, these documents remain relevant as they outline key guidance such as the new UK e-notification service replacing the need to publish tenders in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU) – now named the ‘Find a Tender Service’ – and the need for businesses to acquire an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

Our Brexit resources page will continue to be updated as the situation develops, allowing you to stay abreast of all the latest and most relevant information for public procurement and business.

Brexit: What happens now for procurement?

Man looking at crossroads with UK flag colours

[Updated: 14/03/2019]

Although the outcome of two major parliamentary votes on Brexit is now clear, very little has actually changed legally – for now. A lot remains to be decided over the coming days and weeks, and various Brexit scenarios remain possible. Here we briefly outline the possibilities and what they might mean for UK procurement.

For more detail on the implications of the different possible outcomes, download our five-page factsheet, ‘Procurement After Brexit.’

What has happened and what is next?

This week Parliament has voted to reject both the withdrawal deal that Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU, and the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal. There will now be a further vote (on 14th March) as to whether to request an extension to Article 50 and delay the date the UK leaves the European Union. A third vote on the previously-negotiated deal is now scheduled “before or on” 20th March.

Even though parliament has voted to reject a ‘no-deal Brexit’, the UK could still leave the EU without a deal if the ‘EU27’ countries do not agree to extend the Article 50 negotiation period.  Moreover, the scope and effect of any proposed extension remains to be seen. The current legal default position is for the UK to leave the EU without a deal on 29th March.

What if the UK does not leave on 29th March?

It’s worth reiterating that, until the UK formally leaves the EU, it is a full member of the EU. This means that, if there is an extension to Article 50, there will be little legislative difference from the current situation – pending any changes in UK or EU law in the interim.

When the UK does leave the EU, current guidance is that procurement rules as they stand now will be written into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Under current guidance, any procurement procedures that are ongoing when the extension period ends will continue under the same regulations as now until an award is made.

However, the possibility of ‘no deal’ remains real in spite of the recent parliamentary vote, which has no legislative force.

What if there is a ‘no-deal Brexit’?

The Government has repeatedly assured that most regulations around procurement will remain the same regardless of the outcome of Brexit, as the majority of the relevant EU regulations are already written into UK and Scottish law.

It was also announced recently that the UK would be able to join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) as an independent member if there is no deal, meaning that UK businesses will be able to continue to bid for contracts in the GPA’s member countries and blocs.

However, in other ways a ‘no-deal Brexit’ would represent major change for UK procurement. UK companies wishing to continue to work with the EU will need to apply for an EORI number. Given the possibility of ‘no deal’ – and that the Government advises that applying for an EORI number takes “around 10 minutes” – companies may want to consider the importance of applying for an EORI number even if it is ‘just in case.’

There is also the possibility that if there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, UK organisations will no longer be able to access OJEU. To learn more about the full implications of this, how companies can reduce the amount of action they will need to take, and an in-depth examination of the consequences of different possible Brexit scenarios, download our factsheet, ‘Procurement After Brexit: Deal or No Deal.’

A ‘no deal’ exit is now more likely than before, and the situation remains subject to much change over the next week. For the latest news, its specific consequences for procurement, and Government guidance documents, visit our dedicated Brexit page.

To learn more about how BiP Solutions can help with your contract and tendering needs, visit www.bipsolutions.com or call (+44) 0141 332 8247.

Registration necessary to work with EU after Brexit

Woman at verify login page on computer screen

As preparations for the UK’s departure from the EU intensify, procurement professionals should ensure they are aware of the requirements to register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number.

Late February’s announcement that UK businesses will be able to continue to trade with members of the GPA in the event of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ is undoubtedly welcome. However, businesses need to take steps to make sure that they will individually be able to do business internationally after 29th March. The primary requirement for businesses looking to continue to work with the EU will be to have an EORI number.

An EORI number is a requirement for moving goods into or out of the EU. The purpose of an EORI number is to allow HMRC to identify your company and collect the appropriate duties. If you do not have an EORI number, you may face delays and even increased costs, for example storage fees if HMRC cannot clear the goods involved in your transaction.

In the event that the UK leaves the European Union without a negotiated deal, you will need an EORI number to continue trading with the EU. This requirement will be effective as of ‘exit day.’

You can apply for an EORI number now even if you do not use it. While the situation around a potential deal between the UK and EU remains dynamic, the possibility of ‘no deal’ means that businesses that currently work with the EU may want to consider the importance of an EORI number. The Government advises that the application process should take less than ten minutes. Ensure that you have all the information you need to apply by viewing the Government’s advice here.

To learn more about how public procurement could be affected by various possible Brexit scenarios, click here to view BiP’s updated factsheet, ‘Procurement After Brexit: Deal or No Deal.’

International market remains open after Brexit

Business people shaking hands in airport with world map

It has been confirmed that British businesses will be able to continue bidding for contracts from across the world after the UK leaves the European Union.

In the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the UK will join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) as an independent member, as confirmed by the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The 19 members of the GPA include such major economies as Japan, the USA, Canada, Israel and the EU. The UK’s membership of the Agreement will mean that British businesses will be able to continue to bid on public sector contracts from other countries on much the same terms as currently. The reciprocal agreement allows businesses from across the world to continue to bid on £67 billion worth of public sector contracts in the UK, while British suppliers will be able to bid on £1.3 trillion worth of contracts in many different countries.

Grahame Steed, eSourcing and Business Intelligence Director at BiP Solutions, said:

“Clarity on the UK’s membership of the General Procurement Agreement post-Brexit is positive news. The international market for public sector contract opportunities is massive, so businesses should be encouraged that this market remains open, even after the UK exits the EU.”

If the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, the UK will join the GPA as an independent member as quickly as possible. There may be a short delay for the GPA to take legal effect in the event of a ‘no-deal’ exit, but this is likely to last less than a month and the Government assures that “disruption to businesses is likely to be minimal.” If a negotiated withdrawal deal between the UK and EU includes an Implementation Period, the UK will remain a member of the GPA under EU schedules.

To learn more about the full effect of different potential Brexit outcomes on UK procurement, and what suppliers can do to reduce the level of action they’ll need to take, read our updated guidance document, ‘Procurement After Brexit: Deal or No Deal’ here.

The full Government press release on GPA membership can be read here.