Brexit Briefing update (Jan 2018): What the vote for Brexit means for public procurement in the UK.
The UK remains a part of the European Union and its legislative framework until such time as it formally leaves.
This useful visualisation above describes European trade block relationships well, and these will likely be the matter of much discussion in the forthcoming year. The different implications of each ring varies, but it is hoped this diagram may provide an invaluable support for furthering your understanding and resistance.
The Brexit timescale allowed for negotiating a departure under Article 50 of the Treaty on the Foundation of the European Union is 2 years. By Autumn 2018 however arrangements need to be finalised to allow these agreements to be passed respectively through each of the parliaments of all current EU Treaty signatory countries. Given the legislative complexity of the departure, the difficulty in reaching agreement on trade terms and the lack of any clear vision as to the outputs being sought by the UK Government it is thought unlikely that departure will be agreed with much greater rapidity, if at all.
The departure time scale commenced when the UK invoked Article 50. There are numerous practical, economic and political considerations, and a range of factors that have and will emerge further.
The UK has already transposed and adopted the Public Contract Directives (2014/24/EU and 2014/25/EU), into the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (England, Wales & N. Ireland) and The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. Accordingly these regulations which fully align with all other EU member states will continue to apply until such time as the UK or the EU repeals them. There appears to be no appetite for their early repeal in the UK, and furthermore it’s considered there will likely be insufficient civil service time available for the UK to countenance their repeal, in all events for a number of years.
The terms and conditions of any future trading agreements between the UK and any others remain as yet unknown and indeterminable. If however the UK were to finally adopt an EFTA type of agreement with the EU there would be no effective change from the requirements of the EU Public Contract Directives for architectural commissioning, works supplies or other service contracts, and cross border trading would continue.
However if as has been touted a Canadian style trading agreement was reached it should be noted that this does not cover the free movement of services (architecture).
Following Article 50 being invoked, the first round of negotiations resolved the principles of arrangements for separation. New trade arrangements, which lie at the core of any future arrangements have not yet publicly commenced. As Brexit moves forward it is highly likely there may be a further fudges, dealing and turmoil. But as the negotiations have developed and been communicated there has been no further information available about what trade arrangements might be on offer, or be acceptable.
Accordingly the UK will continue as part of the EU single market, at least until formal departure. After which date the UK will continue for considerable time to operate its own internal market under the same regulations and aligned to all other European countries on the basis of the same EU Public Contract Directives, for at least two years but the terms of any cross border trading after that stage of the formal departure remain an unknown.
We would sound a note of caution however. In the soft politics of the real world opportunities for European cross border trading might be anticipated to impact UK opportunities in Europe determined by the perception of a UK departure by other Europeans. Although difficult to evidence this may have a subliminal adverse impacts. Where impacts may also be greatest is in the access by British Institutions to the Europeans finance for construction and infrastructure investment.
If any impacts come to light in construction procurement and architectural competition practice otherwise we would be pleased to receive your feedback.
(Brexit Briefing Update R.2. Jan. 2018).