Brexit Update from Eurofins Hursley
As you will be well aware, Brexit continues to dominate the news agenda and will do so for the foreseeable future. Quite rightly, questions have been raised about the implications for the Eurofins E&E business, which derives a good percentage of its revenue on the back of European regulations.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what I believe to be the current state of affairs.
The recently signed Withdrawal Agreement provides more clarity than has previously been available on what Brexit might look like, assuming that it gets the blessing of Parliament on 11th December. The Withdrawal Agreement includes the provision of a transition period and, if passed, will mean the UK’s customs rules and regulations remaining the same as the EU’s until the end of 2020.
During the transition period, therefore, CE Marking will continue to be applicable in the UK, the operation of UK based Notified Bodies can continue as before, and the various EU Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) such as those with the US, Canada and Korea can also continue.
For the short term at least and, assuming that the Withdrawal Agreement successfully makes its way through Parliament, it will essentially be business as usual.
Beyond the transition period - which could be extended - the situation is less clear. On the one hand the ‘Common Rulebook’ contained in the Withdrawal Agreement suggests that for goods, the UK and EU will remain aligned on many regulations, whilst on the other, one of the fundamental principles of Brexit is to facilitate UK regulations diverging from those of the EU.
Clearly, if regulations were to diverge, then an alternative to CE Marking would be required in the UK. The vote on December 11th will give us all a good indication of the likely outcome.
In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal then there will be more immediate consequences. Manufacturers placing goods on the UK market - whether internally or externally - will no longer be able to use CE Marking and as part of its contingency planning, BEIS has already consulted on the design of a UK Mark to replace it.
In practice, it is likely that there would be some form of transition period.
Elsewhere, Notified Bodies would cease to operate in the UK and testing carried out under EU MRAs could not continue. UK manufacturers placing products on the EU market would be classed as ‘third countries’ and need to have an arrangement with an importer based in the EU. Importers currently based in the UK for the purposes of placing products on the EU market would cease to be able to provide that function after the UK leaves the EU.
Clearly the implications of a No-Deal Brexit are both more immediate and more significant for us as test labs and for you our customers.
Irrespective of the Brexit outcome, the role of UKAS, the recognition of UKAS accreditation under ISO17025 and the validity of the testing that our laboratories perform are all unchanged. Additionally, the ability of UK industry to shape future standards and maintain current ones has been protected by BSI which has recently secured direct membership of CEN and CENELEC, the European standards making bodies.
You can be assured that Eurofins E&E will be monitoring developments and liaising with various UK trade organisations and government departments. We will continue to update you as we move towards 29th March 2019.
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