With the forthcoming Brexit referendum fast approaching on 23rd June many around the UK are wondering how an exit from the European Union will affect them and their day to day lives. For those working within the procurement industry many will be wondering whether leaving the EU will have an effect on public procurement regulations. As it stands the general consensus is that an ‘out’ vote would have little to no effect on the UK’s procurement regulations and the issue is highly unlikely to be pursued by policy makers in the immediate months afterwards.
Although the EU regulations of EU Treaty and EU Procurement Directives would no longer apply to the UK, an ‘out’ vote would have no immediate effect on the validity of current UK Procurement laws. As it currently stands the main procurement regulations within England, Wales and Northern Ireland are the Public Contracts Regulations (2015) and the soon to be introduced Utilities Contracts Regulations (2016) and Concessions Contracts Regulations (2016). Unless reformed these are the rules that will continue to regulate purchasing within the UK.
Although there was no procurement regulatory system prior to the UK joining the EU, public bodies and local authorities had their own internal procurement regulations to ensure accountability, probity and decisions free from bias. So even in the event of the UK’s current procurement system being revoked, it is extremely likely it would be replaced with something very similar.
If the UK left the EU it would potentially adopt a similar approach to Norway and become a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).This would mean that the UK would still have to adopt EU procurement rules. However, a disadvantage of this would be that as non EU members the UK wouldn’t have a say in any procurement laws.
Whatever the outcome on June 23rd it is highly unlikely that the UK would change their stance on procurement policy and it seems that the UK’s procurement regulations are here to stay for the foreseeable future.