In December 2018, the Department for Transport (the Department) awarded contracts to provide additional freight capacity on ferry services between the UK and mainland Europe. These arrangements form part of the Department’s plans to mitigate the impact on the transport system if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal (‘no deal’). The additional freight capacity is intended to allow government to prioritise the flow of critical goods into the UK and to enable imports to flow as freely as possible in the event of no deal. Subsequently, Eurotunnel contested the award of these contracts and the Department settled out court with them in March 2019.
Following the Committee of Public Accounts’ session on 6 March 2019, which discussed (from Q148 onwards) the ferry procurement and the Eurotunnel settlement, the National Audit Office is undertaking an examination into: the Department’s consideration of legal risk during the original procurement; how the settlement was reached with Eurotunnel and what this entails; and an update on the contracts for additional freight capacity on ferry services.