The EU's negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK’s position on the Ireland/Northern Ireland border worried him ©DPA/PA Images
The EU's negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK’s position on the Ireland/Northern Ireland border worried him ©DPA/PA Images

Uphold EU rules for public procurement started before Brexit, says EC

7 September 2017

The European Commission (EC) has called on Britain to abide by EU rules for all public procurements that bridge the official exit date.

In a position paper – one of five made public today – the EC said any withdrawal agreement should ensure relevant provisions of EU procurement law, in particular competition and non-discrimination rules, should be upheld for ongoing public contracts until they are complete.

The brief document made no mention of any future relationship between the UK and EU in terms of public procurement.

The papers were released on the same day as Michel Barnier, the EU chief Brexit negotiator, gave a press conference in which he criticised the UK government’s own position papers on how to deal with the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Barnier said: “What I see in the UK’s paper on Ireland and Northern Ireland worries me. The UK wants the EU to suspend the application of its laws, its Customs Union, and its Single Market at what will be a new external border of the EU. And the UK wants to use Ireland as a kind of test case for the future EU-UK customs relations. 

“This will not happen.” 

Barnier reportedly went on to accuse the UK of backtracking on its commitments to honour past spending agreements – dubbed the Brexit divorce bill.

In another of the position papers released today, on customs arrangements, the EU outlined aims to maintain continuity for goods that start their journey before UK withdrawal from the EU but end them after Brexit.

But, unlike the UK’s position paper, the EU only called for immediate continuity and did not address a post-Brexit arrangement, other than to say the UK will no longer be part of the customs union and will be treated as a third country.

Intellectual property was one area the EC papers covered on which the UK has not published a position. It proposes that any IP recognised before Brexit should continue to be recognised in both the UK and EU, and also stipulates that protected geographical indications that are protected under EU law – for example product designations of origins –  should continue to be protected under UK law.

“This principle should also imply that the United Kingdom puts in place, as of the withdrawal date, the necessary domestic legislation providing for their continued protection. Such protection should be comparable to that provided by Union law,” the paper said. 

Other position papers included the use and protection of information held by the UK and EU governments and bodies, and the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

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