Brian Hayes MEP today (Wednesday) called on the government to seek an exemption for Ireland on EU procurement rules, specifically for industries that are highly exposed to Brexit.
“As each day passes, the Brexit uncertainty gets more and more extreme. Those caught in the worst of the crossfire are Irish businesses that suffer from things like currency devaluation, economic uncertainty, distorted trading patterns and increased competition.
“EU procurement rules mean that when the government opens a tender for the provision of a public good or service, the tendering process must be opened up to all EU companies.
“The problem is that certain Irish industries are acutely feeling the Brexit squeeze already and the added burden of having to compete with other EU competitors, many of whom can provide services on a cheaper basis, could make some businesses unviable.
“In the area of construction, energy and transport sectors, there are many small and medium sized Irish businesses that rely heavily on public procurement. We need to provide every support possible to such businesses with Brexit acting as a major impediment to the growth of Irish SMEs. Ireland’s public procurement market is worth €12 billion and serves as a crucial platform for a large number of Irish jobs.
“There are provisions in the EU procurement rules to exempt certain markets from the rules. For example, if ultilities operators in a certain market are subject to competitive pressure, they may get an exemption from EU rules.
“The government should submit an exemption application to DG Growth in the European Commission setting out the sectors that are particularly exposed to Brexit and which may rely heavily on public procurement.
“The Commission have received 34 exemption applications up to now and Ireland has never made an application. That means we are in a good place to seek such an exemption.
“Some countries rely heavily on exemptions to protect certain sectors. Italy, for example, has sought six exemptions, Austria has sought four and the UK has sought three.
“Part of Ireland’s contingency planning on Brexit must be about preparing our indigenous businesses and ensuring that they have the best possible conditions to prosper in these uncertain times.”