The mist is finally clearing over whether and when the UK will leave the single market and will be further clarified in news from the new government. There will be little effect on manufacturers until the UK actually leaves the EU single market and the existing CE marking arrangements will remain in place until then.
A “No-deal Brexit” now seems very unlikely. The Conservative parliamentary majority should make ratification of the New Withdrawal Agreement a formality. “No-deal” may be used again as leverage in negotiating a trade agreement with the EU and in getting it ratified by parliament. The likelihood of a parliamentary majority in-favour of “No EU trade deal” seems very remote.
The most likely scenario is:
- Parliament acceptance of the new withdrawal agreement early in 2020.
- The UK leaving the EU later in 2020 – the conservative government’s planned date of January 31st 2020 seems ambitious.
- The UK will remain in the single market during the transition period of the New Withdrawal Agreement. This is due to end in December 2020 but this date also seems ambitious.
- UKCA marking will become available at the end of the Withdrawal Agreement transition period.
- There will be a choice of CE marking and UKCA marking during the time-limited period described in the UK regulations. The length of this period has yet to be decided but could be a further year or two.
- UKCA marking will become mandatory at the end of the time-limited period.
The New Withdrawal Agreement
When the UK leaves the EU (European Union), UK laws and regulations that refer to European institutions will no longer apply or work properly.
To prepare for this, the UK and Scottish governments are preparing laws which allow for the UK's new position outside the EU.
The nature of the UK’s transition from EU membership to a non-EU or “third country” is described in the ‘New Withdrawal Agreement.’ Part 3 of the agreement, starting at Article 40, is concerned with ‘Goods Placed on the Market’. Whilst it describes the transitional arrangements, it provides only a vague indication on the eventual UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal.
There has been no change to this ‘Goods Placed on the Market’ section since it was first published in March 2018. The main points are:
- CE marking and free movement remain in place in the UK until the end of the transition period.
- There are requirements for the active transfer of information between EU and UK conformity assessment bodies and between EU and UK authorities to ensure that they get the information for future market surveillance if cooperative links are broken.
- Because it is an agreement between the EU and UK it does not deal with the adoption of the UKCA mark at the end of this transition period, because this is a UK internal matter and it cannot start during the transition period.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-withdrawal-agreement-and-political-declaration (see Part three, title 1 ‘Goods Place on the Market’, article 40 onwards).
UKCA marking for UK products
Draft UK Regulations on Product Conformity
The draft amendments to the current UK and EU regulations on products were published in March 2019. Among other things, they provide for the UK unilaterally recognising EU requirements and the CE marking, so that CE marked products can continue to be placed on the market and circulate in the UK after Brexit. The UKCA Mark will replace the CE Mark for the UK market as part of the transition.
The new draft statutory instrument amends 29 pieces of UK legislation that currently implement the EU CE marking directives and regulations to change them from EU single market regulations to UK market regulations. They cover machinery, electrical equipment, pressure equipment, products for explosive atmospheres as well as many others.
This has been achieved largely by replacing a limited number of EU terms with UK terms. This results in the new UK Product Conformity regulations mirroring the EU system as far as possible and only deviating where necessary to avoid conflict with it.
The key amendments are detailed below: -
|Replace EU references to:||With UK references:|
|This Directive||These regulations|
|Other EU directives||Other enactments|
|CE Mark||UKCA Mark|
|Harmonised standards||Designated standards|
|Publishing standard titles in “Official Journal of the EU to harmonise them||The Secretary of State will designate standards and publish their titles|
|EU declaration of conformity||Declaration of Conformity|
|Union harmonisation legislation||Statutory requirements|
|EU-type examinations, certificates, etc.||Type examinations, certificates, etc.|
|EU, EU member states, EEA, EEA member states.||The United Kingdom|
|Established in the Union (manufacturers, importers, authorised representatives, etc.)||Established in the United Kingdom|
|A language which can be easily understood by … (by end-users, authorities, etc.)||English|
|Omit references to competent national authorities of other Member States||(Consideration of other member states is not required)|
|UK Notified bodies||Approved bodies|
The CE marking system will continue unchanged in the UK during the transition period described in the withdrawal agreement. The UK regulations set out a further “time-limited period” during which CE marking and UKCA marking will both be accepted. After that UKCA marking will be required:
- The “UK Conformity Assessed” UKCA logo will replace the CE logo.
- The UK "declaration of conformity" will replace the "EU declaration of conformity” declaring conformity with the UKCA marking regulations instead of the EU directives and regulations.
- It is likely that products requiring approval, will have a shorter transitional period.
UK Notified bodies have been affected significantly. Because they will no longer be established in the EU, their notified status will be withdrawn and their certificates that currently allow products to be placed on the EU single market will be limited to products for the UK market.
- Most are transferring these certificates and their supporting data to EU notified bodies and the withdrawal agreement requires them to cooperate with this.
- The Secretary of State will take over the EU’s functions in relation to UK Notified bodies that are currently displayed at the NANDO Website including:
o Assigning an approved body identification number to each approved body;
o Listing the activities for which they have been approved; and
o Listing any restrictions on those activities.
Requirements for UK manufactured products exported to the EU on leaving the Single Market
Products for the EU27 will continue to be CE marked; UKCA marking will not be formally recognised there.
Obligations of importers
If and when the UK does leave the single market, it becomes a “third” or non-EU country. The main result for UK manufacturers exporting products to the EU27 will be that the person receiving them in the EU27, i.e. the distributor or sometimes the end user must fulfil the obligations of an EU “importer”.
Similarly products from outside the UK placed on the UK market will require a UK importer.
- Mark the product with their name and address
- Understand and check the markings, declarations and technical file
- Satisfy themselves that the CE or UKCA marking process is complete
- Be the primary point of contact for the EU or EU authorities
- Be prepared to cooperate with the authorities if there is a product recall or similar.