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A Cross-Border Guide to Public Procurement

This information for businesses trading cross-border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will introduce public procurement, FAQs and key takeaways.

Red Ring Binder with Inscription Procurement Plans on Background of Working Table with Office Supplies

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), now in place, means change. It will require adapting to new trading arrangements, rules and regulations.

How has the TCA affected public procurement between Ireland and Northern Ireland?

The Northern Ireland protocol does not apply the EU procurement rules meaning that Northern Ireland is in the same position as the rest of the UK and the EU procurement rules no longer apply. The Brexit deal has put in place new procurement guarantees which continue to allow suppliers of goods, services and contractors for works to tender for, participate in competitions and be awarded public sector contracts.

One area businesses in both Northern Ireland/Ireland should be aware of is how tenders are advertised. Higher value tenders, typically above £122,976 in the UK are no longer advertised on the OJEU/TED system. They are instead advertised on the new GOV.UK Find A Tender System. Tenders in Ireland will continue to be advertised on the Official Journal of the EU / Tenders Electronic Daily (OJEU/TED) system.

How has the TCA affected public procurement between Ireland and UK?

Suppliers in Ireland and the UK are entitled to participate in procurement competitions in the other state, in the sectors covered under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement which applies the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, with guarantees of equal treatment. The Irish Office of Government Procurement in its Brexit and Public Procurement update July 2021 stated:

The response of public bodies to the changed trading relationship between the EU and the UK in 2021 should be focused on two aspects. Tendering public bodies should act to ensure that tenders received from UK providers have the same level of access to opportunities in the Irish public service as previously. No restriction on access to tender opportunities should be applied to UK providers. The principles of openness and transparency should be strictly observed in respect of UK-based tenders. Management of contracts - tender competitions leading to the award of public contracts must pay close attention to the operability of the contract where it may involve a tender proposal from a UK-based provider.

Detailed guidance is available from the Irish Office of Government Procurement. Note: This is a downloadable PDF document.

How has the TCA affected public procurement between Northern Ireland and GB?

There is no change to public procurement between Northern Ireland and GB.

Important takeaways

Suppliers from the other jurisdiction are entitled to apply for redress including a court order stopping the process, potentially invalidating an award and/or granting compensation, where there has been a breach of the guarantees.

The UK system of procurement will continue to be very similar to that which applied last year. UK opportunities will no longer be published in the EU Journal and the TED website. The UK has replaced the publication of tenders through the EU journal and portal with the new "Find a Tender" system and portal.

The UK intends to streamline its procurement rules aiming for simplification and reform. The look and feel of the UK procurement system will not be the same as that in EU states. However, the above protections and guarantees for participation by suppliers will apply.

Further information

InterTradeIreland's award-winning Go-2-Tender programme:

Go-2-Tender has been designed to help SMEs across Northern Ireland and Ireland to be more successful in bidding for and servicing public sector contracts. With our one-to-one, sector specific support and guidance, you can begin to take advantage of untapped opportunities in the all-island public procurement market.

  • Learn more about support available to help you Tender Successfully and access a range of helpful resources on the InterTradeIreland website.


Article reviewed: March 2023