We interviewed John Albon, the BBA’s Chief Scientific Officer, and asked him some critical questions around the BBA’s footprint in the EU, post-Brexit.
- The BBA Agrément Certificate is focused on the UK Market. How does what the BBA offers compare to that of 3rd parties with an existing EU-footprint?
UKCA (and CE) marking provides a generic specification for a product. In most cases, this is heavily dependent on self declaration of properties by the manufacturer. In contrast, a BBA Certificate is a fully independent opinion of the fitness for purpose for a specific product and a given application, taking into account all relevant aspects, such as Regulatory compliance, practicability of installation and durability, all based on UK working practices and conditions.
- Due to Brexit, should we require product certification, is it better to use a UK-based TIC company or an EU-based TIC company?
BBA Certification is completely unaffected by Brexit and continues to offer the UK’s most comprehensive and recognised route to demonstrating a product’s fitness for its intended purpose. In addition, should a product require UKCA marking , the BBA has been designated an Approved Body by Government and is able to offer the necessary support service in terms of testing, inspection and Certification.
- Now that the UK is no longer part of the EU, does that mean that the BBA is no longer able to act in the EU?
In addition to offering all necessary compliance services in support of UKCA marking, the BBA has forged partnerships with EU based Notified Bodies and TABs to enable CE marking to also be applied with a minimum of duplication of activities. For example, ETAs can be arranged with ETA-Danmark and inspections coordinated with Eurofins in Finland, meaning that Certificates of factory production control can be issued in both the UK and the EU on the basis of a single inspection. It is hoped that mutual recognition of Notified / Approved Body testing will also be available in the near future.
- Does it matter that the BBA is a UK-based company, if they’re working with other EU partners?
No. Partnerships have been formed with organisations based in the EU, which means that UKCA and CE marking can be applied through mutual recognition of services, without the need for time consuming and expensive duplication of work.
- Does the BBA, and its certification, still hold as much influence when BBA certified products are rolled out in other EU Member states, if the BBA doesn’t have a footprint in the EU?
The BBA has maintained its close working relationship with equivalent organisations in the EU, and remains a member of the UEAtc , the association of European Certification Bodies. This means that we can continue to arrange Certification in other European countries, where required, on the basis of the work carried out by the BBA. This offers an efficient and cost effective way of obtaining product Certification across the EU.
- Is it true that the ETA is what holds the intelligence behind certification, and that the 3rd party certificate merely serves as the user interface of that intelligence?
An ETA gives a product specification in a defined way that is consistent across the EU. However, it does not place the results in their specific context, which is the role of the BBA Certificate. The BBA Certificate is a detailed opinion on the fitness for the intended purpose of the product, taking into account all relevant factors, such a Building Regulations, UK construction practice, practicability of installation and durability, based on specific UK climatic conditions. Unlike an ETA, which is valid indefinitely, BBA Certificates are reviewed every three years to ensure that they remain current and are updated regularly to ensure that this is the case.
- Is it true that the certificate relates only to the country where that product is being manufactured, whereas the testing being carried out is done so against EU norms and is being accepted as transferrable until Jan 2022?
CE marking for affected products already on the market, remains valid in the UK until the end of this year. From 1 January 2022, UKCA marking is required for these existing products, and for all new affected products from the beginning of this year. The BBA can help with the necessary conformity support for UKCA marking, while maintaining CE marking, in most cases, through our European partners.
It is the placing of the product on the UK market that is the key factor for UKCA marking; it does not matter where in the world the product is manufactured.
- What does the longevity of ETAs from the UK-outwards look like?
For existing products covered by an ETA, CE marking can be applied and used to place a product on the UK market until the end of this year. From 2022, ETAs as such will have no validity in the UK, but can continue to be used as the basis of CE marking in the EU. However, should you choose to UKCA mark using this route, you will need to obtain a UK Technical Approval (UKTA), the new UK equivalent of an ETA, available from the BBA.
- How is the BBA actively challenging the wider industry and building bridges through partnerships to continue to offer relevance for Certificate holders post-Brexit?
The BBA continues to work closely with equivalent bodies in the EU and worldwide. We work with EU based Notified Bodies on an individual basis to offer cost effective parallel Certification in support of UKCA marking. We remain members of the UEAtc, the European Certification Bodies’ organisation, which allows the development of consistent assessment methodologies and the chance to obtain Agrément Certificates in different countries based on a single piece of technical work. We have applied for Observer status with EOTA, which will allow us to maintain contact with the world of CE marking and advise UK industry accordingly, as well as working with Government to set up an equivalent organisation for the UK and will participate in the setting up of a UK group of Approved Bodies.
For more information on UKCA Marking, please visit our information hub here.