Procurement experts consider life after OJEU

With questions over whether an exit from the European Union could bring about vast legislative change, procurement specialists at the CIH Housing conference predicted that rules around bidding for projects and services would remain “much the same”.

While exhibitors said that attendance was “subdued” at the annual conference, held by the Chartered Institute of Housing in Manchester, the event gave representatives an opportunity to swap predictions on what the UK’s departure from the EU could mean for housing associations, developers and contractors.

Vince Blake-Barnard, a former local authority solicitor and now barrister at law firm Park Square, told Place North West that although Brexit would mean “an awful lot of work for lawyers”, there could be some advantages to stepping away from EU rules.

“The fact of the matter is the landscape we operate in is governed by EU regulations, and there are hundreds of thousands of pages of legislation that are going to need rewritten,” he said.

“However when it comes to procurement rules, there will always be a procurement exercise of some kind, but it might be at a different level, and the advantage of the EU dropping out of the equation could mean that there is less competition when tendering for contracts within the UK. That could be good news, however that means we can’t complain if UK companies are excluded from tendering for EU contracts.”

Under current EU legislation, all public sector tenders above a certain financial threshold are published and applied for through the Official Journal of the European Union. Many within the development industry have criticised OJEU as too prescriptive and bureaucratic, restricting innovation and leading to a time-consuming bidding process which particularly limits smaller businesses.

According to Alan Heron, head of procurement at Procurement Hub, changes to tendering “won’t be as cataclysmic as people think”.

“Rules associated with the Official Journal of the European Union will go, but they will be replaced with something very similar as they’re based on good practice, and that will be the same for everything else. There will be some framework tweaks, but we expect limited change.

“We already have an example of what these new rules outside of the EU will look like. The Government Procurement Agreement applies to countries inside the EU who also use the OJEU process, and those outside such as the US and China, and the GPA rules are pretty much the same.”

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