Future Fleet Forum 2018: The effect of Brexit on fleet management procurement, by Professor Christopher Bovis, University of Hull

Published:  10 March, 2018

The UK currently has one of the best procurement systems in the world, according to Christopher Bovis, professor of international and European business law at the University of Hull. His presentation focused on the potential disruption to this system from Brexit, and why negotiations for access to the customs union and single market will be so important.

Why is the UK system so good? Because the UK has applied EU directives and then gone over and above what is required. This allows municipalities to add extra elements such as environmental protection, innovation, and health and safety into the procurement process. The UK system provides for public-private partnerships, concessions, and a number of other flexibilities. This might not sound that radical until you realise that almost nowhere else in the world does evaluating the whole-life costs of a contract – value for money – have such importance. Elsewhere, lowest cost is usually the driving factor for contract awards.

Brexit won’t see any immediate changes, Professor Bovis explained, because the negotiation and transition periods must expire before any replication of any aspect of the single market can be agreed between the UK and the EU. He then outlined what he sees as the three possible scenarios for UK procurement law after Brexit, each of which has its downsides.

The first is membership of the European Economic Area, like Norway and Switzerland. This would allow access to the customs union and single market but without a seat at the table – and will depend on contributions to the EU budget.

The second is the WTO, specifically the Government Procurement Agreement, which is the part of the WTO that regulates procurement. ‘However, the GPA is a skeleton of the current system and does not include fundamental areas such as services, intellectual property and market access,’ said Professor Bovis. ‘It also regulates the system on a reciprocal basis, and therefore members must reciprocate access to their markets for anyone within the WTO.

‘Up to a point, this is fantastic. But, when it comes to procurement, the WTO put on the emergency brakes because every government knows procurement is strategic as it regulates strategic industries, principles and preferences. Certain industries, such as aviation, transport, energy and infrastructure, need protection and preferences. These are not included under WTO. And memberships of the GPA is only a third of the total WTO membership because many countries do not want to open their markets.’

The third option is something like TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Professor Bovis described this as ‘WTO+’. The system allows the inclusion of some services and opens markets to some sectors between its members across the EU, US and Canada. 'But it will be a steep learning curve for the UK to learn the tricks of the trade to replicate these trade agreements and it is imperative that the new system is negotiated quickly.’

In particular, Professor Bovis highlighted the need for innovation as a part of the procurement process, and that this can only happen in a system that includes the concept of value for money. This is an element that is difficult to replicate because the life-cycle costing methodology doesn’t exist in any procurement system outside the EU. ‘How will you get all these things into the real market when the real market precludes consideration of them? This is the biggest concern.’

Related Articles

  • Future Fleet Forum 2018: Creating an innovation culture, by Richard Atkinson, CILT 

    The first email was sent in 1970. Today, there are more than two billion emails sent each day. The pace of change in the modern world is now so fast that innovation within organisations is essential, said Richard Atkinson, director of marketing and communications at CILT. His presentation focused on how to unlock the innovation culture within an organisation and harness the creativity of employees.

  • Future Fleet Forum 2018: Large-scale advanced-propulsion systems by Michael G Britt, MG Britt Consulting 

    ‘No one is going to go broke going green,’ said Mike Britt, who worked at UPS for 31 years before setting up a consulting business last year, in his presentation on advanced-propulsion systems. But if manufacturers are going to make a profit from sustainable vehicles they need economies of scale, so there need to be changes on the demand side. 

  • Future Fleet Forum 2018: introduction by Alex Williams, Transport for London 

    The Mayor of London is passionate about supporting a growing city but he wants the cleanest, safest vehicles on the roads, smarter fleet operations, and protection for industrial land – that was the message from Alex Williams, director of city planning at Transport for London, who opened Future Fleet Forum by outlining Mayor Sadiq Khan’s priorities for London’s transport sector.

  • What’s on at Future Fleet Forum 2018? 

    Future Fleet Forum 2018 will take place from 24-25 January in London. An exhibition of the latest vehicles and technologies will run alongside Future Fleet Forum from 24-25 January 2018 in London. Here are some of the highlights you can expect to see.

  • Geesinknorba – driving innovation in waste management 

    COMMERCIAL PROFILE: Geesinknorba is one of Europe’s leading providers of refuse collection vehicles to both public and private sector operators. We design and manufacture a wide range of specialist vehicle bodies and bin-lifting equipment, which can be mounted on chassis from any manufacturer. Our focus is on innovation and delivering the products that our customers need to meet the requirements of today and the challenges of tomorrow.

Sign Up

For the latest news and updates from LAPV.


LAPV (Local Authority Plant and Vehicles) is the only UK information source purely dedicated to local authority vehicles and affiliated plant equipment. Appearing four times a year, it offers well-researched technical articles on the latest equipment/technology as well as in-depth interviews with key industry professionals. More...



All content © Hemming Information Services 2019