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BREXIT PRODUCT CERTIFICATION UNCERTAINTY

1st May 2018


BREXIT PRODUCT CERTIFICATION UNCERTAINTY

By means of the Repeal Bill, the UK is trying to introduce the EU regulatory framework as national legislation. There is uncertainty over which technical product regulations and standards shall apply in the UK, and if Notified bodies in the UK lose their status, then companies providing products to the EU may need to apply to notified bodies within the EU27, as the validity of issued certificates and permits may be affected.

There is uncertainty over whether the UK will continue to adopt European standards and, if so, whether they will have legal effect equivalent to the presuming effect contained within EU law. Given that one of the drivers for Brexit was de-regulation and control of the legislative framework, different standards in the UK and the EU would mean increased uncertainty and increased costs for manufacturers and the market as a whole.

Additionally, as the European Commission provides a significant proportion of European cooperation for Accreditation’s (EA) funding there is uncertainty on their viewpoint as to whether UKAS should remain a member of EA. However, UKAS reports that progress has been made in discussions with the EA and they have agreed to consider changes to the membership criteria which could allow UKAS to continue as a member following the UK’s exit from the EU. UKAS have confirmed that their membership of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) will be unaffected by Brexit.

All variations of a trade agreement will mean a departure from the current situation in some way, and it understood that the UK needs to be allowed to continue using its quality infrastructure through some form of agreement. Trade in goods between the UK and the EU after Brexit will include changed roles and requirements for economic operators in trade with the UK, such as Distributors will instead be regarded as importers or manufacturers, which means higher requirements. There is also uncertainty over the consequences if the CE mark is incorporated into UK legislation in connection with the Repeal Bill. There are particular concerns with regards to EU type approvals issued by UK authorities, and test reports issued by technical services for the area of vehicle manufacture.

Following Brexit, BSI will no longer constitute a national standardisation body within the EU and thus not meet the requirements for membership of CEN, and any opportunity to influence Harmonised standards may be reduced.

The optimist might view the situation as semantics and that the process and methodology for product certification and relevant technical standards may be transposed or incorporated into the UK Framework and trade agreements will reflect the business as usual status-quo with minimal impact on the export and import of goods. However, given the ambiguous strategy for the negotiation on future relations with the EU27, it is not clear that EU members will let the UK have its cake and eat it, so it would be naïve not to anticipate some difficulties during the change to the trading dynamic.

Paradoxically the most detailed guidance available on potential outcomes for EU/UK product certification post Brexit comes from Sweden. SWEDAC were engaged by the Swedish Government to analyse the consequences, particularly for Swedish interests of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and what impact Brexit may have on the application of technical regulations in trade in goods within the EU and between the EU and the UK. The full report can be accessed by following the link:

https://www.swedac.se/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Brexitrapport-ENG-180201.pdf



By Tony Duff - , 1st May 2018

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