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BT faces tussle to keep EU contracts after Brexit

The European Union will likely re-evaluate its telecoms contracts with BT following Brexit, and cancelling them altogether is a real risk in a no-deal scenario, according to leaked documents

BT’s network services business may face a fierce battle to retain control of over £150m of contracts it currently holds with the European Union (EU) after the UK leaves the bloc on 29 March.

According to The Guardian, which first reported the story, a recent meeting between EU officials and MEPs, held behind closed doors, discussed the possibility that after Brexit, the EU might scrap contracts with British companies covering things it deems sensitive, including telecoms.

Minutes of the meeting between European Parliament secretary general Klaus Welle and a working group of MEPs looking at Brexit preparations were leaked to the newspaper, revealing that such contracts “should be given thorough consideration in the framework of procurement by [the European] Parliament”.

The minutes noted that as of 29 March, the EU would no longer be able to “conclude contracts” with UK businesses, something that also applied to existing calls to tender.

Welle is said to have agreed that sensitive external services provided to the EU from UK-based companies would have to be “evaluated closely”.

He also noted that should the UK crash out of the EU in a no-deal scenario, without the “benefit” of the 21-month transition period built into prime minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, the risk of contracts with the likes of BT being cancelled was heightened.

Among the contracts held by BT are a £49m deal with the European Parliament and two other contracts worth £24m to provide cloud services at 52 European institutions.

BT told The Guardian that the organisation firmly believed it should be able to retain its existing EU contracts and said it was continuing to monitor the situation as part of its in-house Brexit planning.

A BT spokesperson told Computer Weekly: “BT is proud to have served a number of EU institutions for over 30 years and looks forward to continuing to do so, based on the quality of the services provided, the strength of our commercial relationships and, most importantly, the satisfaction of our customers throughout the EU.”

Read more about Brexit preparations

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications

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