The UK left the EU on 31st January 2020. Under the UK-EU withdrawal agreement, the transition period will end on 31st December 2020. The UK and EU are currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement.
Will there be a Free Trade Agreement?
- The negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and EU is continuing, however it is increasingly unlikely that a deal can be reached in time for the 1st January 2021. The trade deal could include mutual recognition of product safety legislation such as the toy or electrical safety legislation.
Improving product safety?
- One frustrating point is the amount of resources (from manufacturer, retailer and enforcement authorities) that is being focussed on updating marking and paperwork. This resource could be focussed on improving product safety. The current uncertain environment could also create the opportunity for unscrupulous traders to sell unsafe products.
How will the new regulatory regime be enforced?
- It’s likely that UK enforcement will take a pragmatic approach to enforcing UK specific legislation, however the lack of time to transition to the new requirements will undoubtedly cause discrepancies. This should be taken into consideration when defining your compliance strategy.
- Products being sold into Europe & Northern Ireland still need to comply with EU legislation and enforcement will remain the same.
How quickly will regulations diverge?
- Regulatory divergence will hinge on a trade deal or lack of. In the short term there will be some minor differences. Over time, the divergence is likely to increase, however there should be more defined implementation timeframes giving businesses time to adapt.
Should the UKCA mark be applied to products now?
- This will depend on the particular retailer’s attitude to risk and ability of the supply chain to adapt to the new marking requirements. Changes to the UKCA marking may be possible now for some retailers, for others it might be more pragmatic to apply the UKCA mark after 1st January – when there should be more certainty.
- The UKCA mark does not apply in Northern Ireland, the CE marking can continue to be used – or the new UKNI mark.
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Chris Meadows, TRG Technical Knowledge Manager