EU Exit Business Readiness Forum meeting on 28th February - Public Procurement and Changes to EU funding
Please find below summary notes from the EU Exit Business Readiness Forum meeting on 28th February covering Public Procurement and Changes to EU funding
- Andy Harrison, Head of EU Exit Business and Stakeholder Engagement, BEIS
- Lisa Stubbs, Cabinet Office
- Syma Cullassy-Aldridge – Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU)
- Laura Parker-Tong, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG)
- Lewis Mayhew, MHCLG
- Owen Murray, MHCLG
- Peter Ford, BEIS
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) held their fifth EU Exit Business Readiness Forum on Thursday 28th February at BEIS central London offices in Victoria, covering in this session Public Procurement and Changes to EU funding in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The forum was hosted by Andy Harrison, Head of EU Exit Business and Stakeholder Engagement at BEIS with panellists Syma Cullassy-Aldridge (DEXEU), Lisa Stubbs (CO), Laura Parker-Tong (MHCLG), Lewis Mayhew (MHCLG), (Owen Murray (MHCLG) and Peter Ford (BEIS).
The Forum, aimed primarily at representative organisations such as trade associations and professional bodies, has 3 main objectives - to share the information UK businesses need to prepare for EU Exit; to provide materials to association bodies to cascade to members; and to respond to and gather feedback on existing and new materials circulated in readiness for the UK’s withdrawal.
Andy Harrison welcomed attendees and gave an update on recent actions following feedback from delegates after the first 4 forum sessions. This included detailed weekly bulletins and Q&A sessions following forum meetings and the first trial webex of the meeting itself which was live during this session.
Lisa Stubbs – the Cabinet Office
Miss stubs explained that whilst public procurement previously sat within the Crown Commercial Office this had been realigned within the Cabinet Office.
The session began with a short introduction to the current situation, whereby UK businesses can access EU public sector contract opportunities via the EU TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) portal or via domestic portals – Contracts Finder; Public Contracts Scotland; Sell2Wales; eSourcing NI and eTendersNI.
In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there would be no further access to the EU TED system. Instead, a new UK system “Find a Tender” would be used. Whilst the system is currently in its testing phase, over 45,000 registrations from Contract Finder have been lifted to the new system.
Speaking of how bidding for government contracts overseas could be affected by a no-deal Brexit, Miss Stubbs advised of guidance which had been published on the 27th February advising of the intent of the UK to continue to participate in and have independent membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). Further details of this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-procurement-agreement-uk-participation-after-eu-exit
The GPA, an agreement between 47 countries and 19 parties in the WTO system, aims to mutually open government procurement markets and address trade barriers in the government procurement sector. UK membership of the GPA would enable UK businesses to bid for government contracts in the markets of other GPA parties as well as allowing overseas businesses to bid for contracts tendered by the UK, where these have been opened to international competition.
Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, it is likely that there will be a short period of time between exit and the UK legally joining the GPA although the government is not expecting widespread disruption and is committed to keeping this period as short as possible.
In many overseas markets covered by the GPA, it is expected that UK businesses will be able to continue to access government procurements. However, for the brief period of the gap, they will lose legal rights provided by the GPA, although, in many cases, UK suppliers will have similar rights under the domestic laws of the relevant jurisdiction.
In relation to UK Regulation and Statutory Instruments, the Public Procurement Regulations 2019, laid in December 2018 have now passed through both houses and are available at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2019/9780111176788/contents. This Regulation effectively merges the Public Contract Regulations, Utility Contract Regulations and the Concession Contract Regulations and will come into force in the event of a no-deal situation.
A query was raised in relation to the impact on currency threshold, as in current EU based Regulation this is quoted in Euro’s. It was advised that the 2019 Regulations effectively repatriate powers from the EU to enable us to quote in GBP, however the focus is on maintaining the current levels, not increasing them.
Members are advised to read the Cabinet Office’s guidance page on public-sector procurement after a no-deal Brexit.
Syma Cullassy-Aldridge – DexEU
Following developments and the PM’s statement in the house there is a clear timetable for the next 2 weeks. The second meaningful vote is to be held no later than the 12th March. If MP’s vote against this a motion will be tabled for MP’s to vote on the 13th on whether to the UK leaves without a deal. Following this, again if MP’s vote “no”, there will be a further motion tabled for vote on the 14th to confirm if the house wants to extend Article 50. In this case, any revision to the timetable would have to be agreed by all member states and the Withdrawal Bill amended accordingly.
In Europe, the PM has met with all 27 leaders and the EU has agreed a joint work stream on alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Work on this as well as talks on the future relationship with the EU will progress simultaneously.
Following a query from the audience, it was suggested that the Spring Statement was still expected on the 13th March.
Owen Murray, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) – Loss of EU funding
Mr Murray began the session with a summary of the situation as it currently stands and made reference to the government’s guarantee on replacement funding for certain projects previously funded by the EU, up to 2020 including Horizon 2020, Euratom Research and Training, and ERDF and ESF Grants on infrastructure, stills and inclusion. The government guarantee means that funding will be provided and is agreed for the duration of projects that are already agreed prior to EU Exit, however this guarantee covers UK organisations only and does not cover any EU partners working in a consortium with UK organisations.
The Guarantee also applies to funding of successful applications that are agreed after exit date up to the end of 2020, in respect of UK business participating in Horizon 2020. Bids will still be accepted up to the end of 2020 for Euratom R&T, ERDF and ESF (European Regional Development and European Social Fund) programmes and companies are advised to continue to apply for funding in the usual manner.
Laura Parker-Tong, Lewis Mayhew, MHCLG (Cities and Local Growth Unit) - UK Shared Prosperity Fund
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund of UKSPF is intended is a simplified, integrated fund intended specifically to replace current EU Structural Funds with the aim of tackling inequalities between communities.
They will be targeted with evidence-based administration, working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCA). Local industrial strategies will help prioritise and maximise the impact of UKSPF (UK wide) on local growth including in devolved regions. The provision of a single pot of funding is intended not only to reduce bureaucracy and increase streamlining but also to allow a more agile approach particularly in relation to local incidents.
Approximately 25 regional events have taken place to date around the UK to gather evidence and input on the structure of the fund and to identify priorities. Feedback and discussions held with stakeholders at these events will feed into the consultation.
Further details of the introduction of the UKSPF will be announced shortly and businesses are encouraged to participate in the consultation on UKSPF which will be launched in due course.
Peter Ford, BEIS – Horizon 2020 funding
Mr Ford confirmed again that the government guarantee means that funding for all successful bids submitted by UK participants before the end of Horizon 2020, will continue to be available. This guarantee applies even if the bid is approved or signed after UK exit date. This funding is available to businesses of all sizes, universities, research associations etc. In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, funding will no longer come from Europe however the government guarantee ensures an equivalent level of funding will be made available. As this funding does not cover EU or EEA countries who are involved in a consortium project with UK businesses, any EU / EEA countries participating in a particular project will have to bring their own funding.
Businesses currently receiving funding were urged to register their project now on the UKRI portal to enable next steps to be confirmed and to guarantee funding for the future https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/eugrant/overview
There are around 6,500 projects currently registered and the government is encouraging further submissions.
Further information in relation to EU Funding can be found at:
Programme to 21st March
Dates for forum meetings in March confirmed as 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th.
7th March – Importing and Exporting –Tariffs and
People & Workforce – MRPQ & Business mobility
14th March – Regulations and Standards – Reach, Goods, Product safety
21st March - Digital and Data – Providing services on-line and Data roaming.
Please note that topics are yet to be announced for the forum on 28th March. These will be based on key announcements and business needs.
The government is interested in hearing the feedback of the industry in relation to the information available. Members are invited to forward any queries or feedback they may have to Suzie Radcliffe-Hart firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Association members can find further information on preparations for a potential “no-deal” Brexit including links to relevant documents and sources on .Gov/ HMRC platforms, information on importing, exporting and transporting goods, trading goods covered by the “New Approach” framework (CE marking directives), trading timber products and chemicals www.fira.co.uk/news/article/guidance-for-industry-leaving-the-eu-without-a-deal
This document will be updated on a regular basis as information is confirmed and released.
EU Exit Business Readiness Forum 28 Feb 2019 V Bulletin
28 February 2019 - EU exit business readiness forum Q & A