A new front emerges for post-Brexit tension between the UK and EU: wind farms

Fri 18 Jun 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The European Commission has warned the UK that its procurement policy on wind farms could breach the Brexit trade deal by favouring UK companies. 

France and Spain have complained about information sought on the level of UK content and job creation in bid submissions for the multi-billion contracts, reports the Guardian.

TCA procurement rules

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed by the UK and EU in December prohibits any requirement for companies to “achieve a given level or percentage of domestic content”.

Under the TCA, UK and EU companies retain access to each other’s public procurement contracts which are governed by the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, explains law firm Travers & Smith.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is due to sign off renewable energy contracts in the coming months. The EU is said to be alarmed by the government’s backing of an industry target of 60% for supply chains using UK-manufactured goods or UK supplied services.

WTO commitments

Sam Lowe, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform thinktank, and a former member of the Department for International Trade’s strategic trade advisory group, told the Guardian: “Local content requirements are prohibited not just under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, but also the UK’s WTO commitments.”

Meanwhile, ports in the North East could be in the running as sites for a cable manufacturing plant to service a £21bn Atlantic wind farm, reports Business Live.

Tees Valley freeport, the Port of Blyth, and the Port of Tyne are named as potential sites for the project outlined by London company Hecate Independent Power (HIP), which wants to establish the wind farm.