7 February 2020

The latest on Brexit

Boris Johnson plans to conclude a Trade Deal this year and therefore leave the EU next January.  Despite this optimism about a possible deal, the EU has warned that it will negotiate only a very basic Trade Deal by December 31 2020, and will not grant ‘zero tariff’ access to EU markets if the UK is not willing to agree to follow EU rules on state subsidies and environmental controls.  Even the introduction of Mutual Recognition Agreements for testing and certification have been questioned.  The EU will has published its draft trade mandate and EU leaders will look to adopt it on February 25. The EU is making it clear that any quick deal would involve serious compromise from the UK, and while some commentators suggest that it may be possible to do a quick deal on products, services will be much harder.  As the EU has surplus on products traded with the UK and the UK a surplus on Services traded with the EU, it would seem an unlikely tactic to give away your bargaining chips early.  Couple this with the length of the  EU's previous trade negotiations there are still a lot of complexities to overcome before we will have any certainty about timelines and whether we will leave the EU this year - with a basic Trade Deal or whether the implementation period will be extended - or indeed whether the UK leaves without a deal?

What does Brexit mean for our customers?

The movement of products and goods is likely to be a key topic and bargaining point in the Trade Deal negotiations so we can only offer an opinion based on what we know at the time of writing.  During the implementation period we believe that UK Notified Bodies will continue to be recognised by the EU so business can continue.  It is likely that when the UK actually leaves the EU that the UK Notified Bodies will no longer be recognised - so during the implementation period it may be prudent to consider transferring certificates in a timely fashion to an EU 27 Notified Body.  Should this come to pass it is likely that the UK will adopt its own Conformity Assessment procedure - likely the UKCA - but we have little new information on this at present.  The UK Government in its Technical Bulletins has stated that any compliance regime will initially have the same requirements as the EU legislation - so one set of tests.  However given recent rhetoric the possibility for future divergence is very real and perhaps increasingly likely.

Will existing EU certificates held by UK manufacturers still be valid?

During the implementation period we understand that UK Notified Body Certificates will remain valid.  As mentioned above the issue of Mutual Recognition Agreements - or no-MRAs - will form a part of the Trade negotiations.  The EU has consistently taken a hard-line stance that after the UK leaves the EU, manufacturers of goods to be placed on the EU-27 market should have their products tested and certified by an EU-27 Notified Body wherever a Notified Body involvement is required.  Therefore the no risk path for UK manufacturers and exporters will be to ensure that they have such certification and arrangements in place with an EU-27 Notified Body.

Will Kiwa manufacturing customers from the EU still be able to sell their products in the UK?

During the Transition or implementation phase we are entering - which at present runs until 31st December 2020, CE marked products should be able to be sold in the UK. In the last quarter of 2019 the UK Government published draft Metrology legislation which introduced a new UK Conformity Assessment Marking Scheme- the UKCA.  There have been no further announcements regarding its status since Guidance notes which were only applicable if the UK left the EU without a Transition Deal in place.  

Will the certification process be slower in future?

Provided there is alignment, certification processes should be of similar duration with judicious choice of Notified/Approved Bodies.  For example for gas appliances Kiwa has already established a pathway executing one set of tests and then certifying for the EU with Kiwa NL as Notified Body and for UKCA with Kiwa Gastec in the UK - if and when the UKCA mark is introduced.  There are still some details to be ironed out - such as System 3 reports under the CPR but we hope that these items will become clearer with time.

Will there be changes for UK and wider European customers who want to sell outside of Europe?

This will depend largely on what Trade agreements The UK and the EU strike with other markets and countries around the world - the UK currently trades globally under EU Trade agreements with various markets or nations - this will in all likelihood cease at the end of the implementation period.  It is impossible to state with any certainty at this point but if the UK strikes preferential Trade deals with other nations and markets Trading for UK approved and manufactured goods may become easier.

Will Brexit make exchanging certified or tested products between EU and UK more complex, difficult, time-consuming

That depends entirely on whether an MRA is put in place and whether the UK aligns fully / mirrors with the EU compliance regime or not.  If it implements a mirror system as it discussed throughout 2019, then it should be one set of tests and two Certifications based on the same test results with a little more paperwork and no materially increased timelines for a product approval.  If divergence occurs then it is possible to see a more complex process and some small increases to timelines.

To discuss further, please refer to your usual Kiwa contact, or email uk.brexitticsupport@kiwa.com