Although the coronavirus pandemic is inevitably foremost in our minds, the BBA has not forgotten the Brexit negotiations and their future impact on our industry, and the same will be true of many clients. This article presents our current understanding of the situation.
UK-EU Trade negotiations
The negotiations on a trade deal between the UK and the EU began in early March. The talks were put on hold in mid-March, as the coronavirus outbreak worsened. A one-to-one video conference meeting was scheduled for 30th March between the UK Government and the EU. The UK Government has published a paper describing the outcomes it would like to achieve in a trade deal; the EU have produced a draft trade agreement. There are some areas of agreement, but also areas that conflict. Of importance to our sector, the UK paper covers the desire for mutual recognition of conformity assessment results to be part of an agreed trade deal; if achieved, this would mean that work carried out under the CPR (such as notified body testing and inspections, and issue of ETAs) would maintain validity. It is reassuring that this topic is a stated part of the intended negotiations. The most pertinent section of the UK’s paper is reproduced below.
Protocol on the mutual recognition of conformity assessment results
14.This protocol should facilitate trade in goods that are subject to third party conformity assessment processes as set out in the technical regulations of either party, consistent with provisions found in CETA. It should apply to all relevant sectors. It should establish routes for the designation of conformity assessment bodies in either party to test against the requirements in the other. It could also include transitional provisions to automatically recognise bodies that are currently recognised between the parties, and any approvals that they have already issued.
An extension to the transition period due to the delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been suggested, for example by the EC, some MEPs, and the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales. The Government currently does not wish to do this. If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, however, there will be implications for products covered by the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) by Notified Bodies and Technical Assessment Bodies (TABs) in the UK. The BBA will continue to monitor the Brexit progress, in order to be ready to implement the best solution for our clients, for any potential outcome.
What will happen if a trade deal is negotiation that includes full mutual recognition for third-party conformity assessment work?
If this happens, either on a permanent basis or on a transitional basis, all approvals will continue unaffected.
What will happen if no such agreement is reached?
Non-EC Certificates, Approvals and Testing:
These services will be unaffected by Brexit, even with a no-deal (or free trade agreement) exit. These include:
BBA Agrément Certificates
BBA HAPAS Certificates
BBA MCS Certificates
Non-EC Certificates of Conformity
Certificates of Competency
BBA Testing (other than Notified Body Testing)
PAS 2030 approvals
BBA Management Systems Certificates (ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001)
Factory Production Control visits in support of the above approvals (e.g. Agrémeant)
Competent Persons Scheme
These services do not rely on our relationship with the European Union, and the Brexit scenario will not affect the validity of such Certificates, Approvals or test reports. The BBA is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service as a Product Certification Body, Management Systems Certification Body, Testing Laboratory and Inspection Body. Full UKAS accreditation scopes can be found on our website. UKAS is the UK’s national accreditation body, and a signatory to the international mutual recognition agreements for accreditation bodies. UKAS is also the UK member of European Accreditation, the association of national accreditation bodies in Europe, and this body has amended its Articles of Association to allow UKAS to maintain its membership after any Brexit outcome. This European and international recognition will continue after Brexit.
EC Certificates, Approvals and Testing
These services may be affected by Brexit, depending on the final exit scenario. The services that could be affected include:
EC Certificates of Conformity, including those for Factory Production Control European
Technical Assessments (ETAs)
Notified Body test reports
Notified Body thermal modelling reports
Products to be placed on the EU market will continue to need CE Marking if they are covered by a harmonised European Standard or have been awarded an ETA, but for products to be placed on the UK market, an equivalent UKCA Marking scheme would be introduced if there is a no-deal Brexit. For further details, see below.
EC Certificates of Conformity
EC Certificates of Conformity, including those for factory production control (FPC) issued by UK Notified Bodies would become invalid in the event of the UK leaving the EU with no deal. This means that for the product to be placed on the market in the EU, Certification and AVCP inspections would need to be managed by a Notified Body in one of the remaining EU member states. The BBA has negotiated a partnering arrangement with a European Notified Body for this work and will provide information to affected clients in time to transfer their documentation should it be required. However, for products placed on the market in the UK, existing approvals will remain valid.
European Technical Assessments (ETAs)
The BBA has reached an agreement with a European TAB to allow our clients to transfer their ETA files and associated Certificates with minimal disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The BBA will provide information to affected clients in time to achieve this transfer should it be necessary.
Notified Body Test Reports
For Test Reports issued from the BBA as a Notified Body, and in support of CE Marking, the ongoing validity in the event of a no-deal Brexit is as yet unclarified. Logically, tests carried out at the moment (while we are still a Notified Body under the CPR) should continue to be valid in support of existing CE Marking. In the event that the EC takes the contrary view, we are also in negotiations with Notified Bodies in other EU member states, in order that existing (and indeed, future) test reports from the BBA will still be accepted in support of CE Marking.
The Current Situation
In the approach to January 31st 2020, the Government provided advice about potential equivalent provisions in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This included setting up UK equivalents of the conformity assessment bodies, and a UKCA marking scheme equivalent to CE marking. This guidance has now been withdrawn as we are in the transition period. Should there be any new guidance issued, we will provide information about it.
The Government’s BEIS department commented in early February:
As you will be aware, the UK left the EU on 31st January.
We are now in a transition period until 31st December 2020.
During the transition period, UK Notified Bodies will continue to be recognised by the EU and can provide conformity assessment for both the UK and the EU market during this period.
We will communicate the arrangements at the end of the transition period as soon as further information is available, including on the outcome of negotiations with the EU and what that means for the actions you’ll need to take.
We will continue to update this advice as more information becomes available. If you have any further questions, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org