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An Early Winter Present? The UK’s ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ Green Paper

 |  December 29, 2020

By: Albert Sánchez-Graells (How to Crack a Nut)

The UK Government has published today its green paper on ‘Transforming public procurement’. This is a much awaited publication that will be subjected to public consultation until 10 March 2021. Contributions are encouraged, as this is perhaps a one in a generation opportunity to influence procurement rules. In this blog post, I just aim to provide a hot take on the green paper.

The green paper presents a vision for post-Brexit reform of the UK procurement ‘rule-book’ (for there should be a new, consolidated one), that partially aligns with the proposals of Prof Arrowsmith (see here and here)—and, in fact, Prof Arrowsmith has already published a comparison between her proposals and the green paper (here).

I have just had a read through the green paper and there will be plenty to comment in a submission to the public consultation (stay tuned towards the end of the consultation period). For now, I just have a few observations or rather, general thoughts, that I will need to mull over.

In very many respects, the green paper is is an indictment of the copy-out approach to the transposition of the EU rules in the UK (on which see here). For example, many of the reform proposals are compatible with the current EU rules and relate to areas where the UK decided not to transpose discretionary mechanisms (eg around subcontractor pay). Similarly, most of the proposals on remedies and enforcement mechanisms would be compatible with the current remedies rules. Other proposals seek to create some flexibility beyond the existing EU constraints although, to be fair, most of those are subjected to exceptional circumstances to be regulated by ‘clear regulatory frameworks’ yet to be defined, and which workability raises a few questions…