The UK's post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020. With the European market for public contracts worth an estimated €1.9tn per year, UK businesses that are involved in or seeking these opportunities should consider what changes to access to this market may mean for their financial planning, and learn where to find information to avoid missing opportunities.
The guidance on this page represents the information currently available from government. The CBI will update this page as new information is released.
Key challenges for business
Will the process for bidding for EU public contracts change after the transition period?
Once the transition period ends, the regulations governing the award of contracts will remain broadly unchanged whether or not a deal is agreed.
UK public sector suppliers will, however, need to look for upcoming opportunities on the new UK e-notification service for contracts post-Brexit, rather than on Tenders Electronic Daily (TE) as they do now.
Advertisements for domestic contracts will remain the same.
Will UK companies still compete on a level playing field for European public contracts?
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK will operate under the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) which will give UK businesses some access to EU procurement markets. Negotiations about the UK joining the GPA are in advanced stages and it seems likely that an agreement will be finalised prior to January 2021. However, there is still a chance that some delay could occur between the UK leaving and entry to the GPA taking place. During this period, UK businesses will be treated like any other third-party country with which the EU has no agreement regarding public contracts.
Will membership of the GPA give UK businesses the same access to European public contracts as they have now?
There will be a few differences compared with the current EU rules, as the GPA is more limited in its coverage. The GPA doesn’t cover, for example, below threshold contracts - often meaning contracts less than €200,000. In addition, it doesn’t cover defence contracts, some utility contracts, concessions and social and health services. A full list of the contracts covered can be found in Annex 5 of the GPA.