OJEU or Official Journal of the European Union
When the UK left the European Union on 1 January 2021, with it came significant change to public procurement processes.
Prior to 2021, the UK, along with all other members of the EU, were required to place public sector contracts which exceeded a defined procurement threshold, into the OJEU. The OJEU or Official Journal of the European Union, is an online portal which publishes these contracts in every EU official language and allows invitations to tender from bidders from all member states, where eligibility allows. This provided a level playing field for all bidders to fairly and equally apply to win public procurement contracts across the EU.
When the UK left the European Union, one of the most significant changes in public procurement was that there was no longer a requirement for UK public sector contracts to be published on the OJEU.
So where are high value public procurement tenders placed now?
In 2021 the government introduced Find a Tender (FTS), an e-tendering platform which houses high-value public procurement tender opportunities. Find a Tender has been devised to standardise and simplify the tendering process. This key change affects both public sector Buyers and Suppliers, as any new procurement notices must now be published to this platform in line with The Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which still governs UK procurement.
Find a Tender can be used to search for high-value opportunities or awarded contracts, typically over £122,976 but varying in some cases, across the whole of the UK.
Requirements to publish on other platforms remain unchanged, where information on contracts over £10,000 (or £25,000 outside central government) can be found on:
- Contracts Finder for England
- Public Contracts Scotland for Scotland
- Sell2Wales for Wales
- eSourcing NI and eTendersNI for Northern Ireland
Governance of Public Procurement Thresholds
Post 1 January 2021, the UK procurement thresholds are no longer governed by European Union regulations and are now governed by the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).
Significant economies including Japan, the United States and Canada follow the WTO’s GPA, as does the EU. This means changes for the UK will be minimal in terms of thresholds, but it allows greater certainty in terms of accessing international public procurement opportunities. It is estimated that the UK will now have access to over £1.3 trillion worth of overseas government contracts whilst overseas contractors will have access to tender for £67 billion worth of public sector contracts in the UK every year WTO agreement secures £1.3 trillion market for British contractors – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
From 1 January 2021 where contracts are listed below the GPA threshold, these will not be regulated by the GPA, meaning the UK government is solely in control of these contracts.
Of note is that as part of Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU, a trade deal was accepted by both parties which meant that UK suppliers can still bid for OJEU tenders, but in doing so, they will be bound by the existing European Union procurement regulations.
What about Contracts Awarded Pre-January 2021?
Whilst new contracts created post 1 January 2021 are no longer subject to OJEU principles, those contracts accepted and not completed before 31 December 2020 remain part of OJEU and are therefore still subject to European Union procurement rules.
Once all contracts awarded pre-2021 are completed, OJEU will cease to be used in the UK.