Brexit and The Red Tape Explosion


London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – Following Brexit, the UK has attained a newfound autonomy, liberating itself from what was perceived as the bureaucratic control of Brussels. The nation is now unshackled from regulations that it had a hand in shaping over the years, regulations that were sometimes deemed undesirable.

These rules, often attributed to ‘unelected bureaucrats’, were criticized for generating extensive and needless administrative hurdles. Today, the UK revels in the opportunity to independently formulate its regulations, tailored to its specific needs, with the aim of enhancing efficiency across the board.

A New Definition of ‘Efficiency’

Let’s Consider the case of medications. They require authorization before being employed. Historically, this responsibility fell under the jurisdiction of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). However, presently, the United Kingdom operates its own entity dedicated to this task: The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Naturally, due to the inherent British nature of their regulations, the decision to establish the MHRA seemed prudent, suggesting an improvement over European standards. Consequently, the British populace can once more place their confidence in the medications extended to them.

Regrettably, there exist a few minor downsides too. British manufacturers, desiring to market their products beyond the UK, must navigate two approval procedures. Some international enterprises may choose not to undergo this extra step, opting to forgo the UK market instead.

The Northern Ireland scenario adds an extra layer of intricacy due to its current de facto status within the single market, obliging it to adhere to both EU regulations and UK regulations.

A comparable situation pertains to the CE mark. This symbol verifies the adherence of products to relevant EU regulations, signifying compliance rather than quality. With Britain’s newfound sovereign status, it is unburdened by EU restrictions, enabling the establishment of independent regulations (largely mirroring those of the EU). Conformance to these regulations is denoted by the newly introduced UKCA mark.

Further Sticking Points

If manufacturers intend to sell their products beyond the UK borders, they are required to navigate two approval procedures. The CE mark holds a strong reputation, and even in countries where its use isn’t obligatory, importers acknowledge its significance as a selling point.

Similar to the situation with pharmaceuticals, smaller manufacturers located outside the UK might opt to forgo the UK market rather than endure the complexities and substantial expenses associated with obtaining an additional confirmation certificate, which essentially reiterates the information already covered by the CE certificate.

If that weren’t already complex, further intricacies arise concerning Northern Ireland. British businesses aiming to market their products in Northern Ireland encounter an apparent “simplification” requiring just one compliance mark: the newly established UKNI standard. However, a minor predicament arises as items labeled as UKNI are prohibited from being vended within the EU.

Naturally, in alignment with political discourse, this situation hasn’t generated additional bureaucratic obstacles, but rather supplementary “administrative hurdles” (could someone elucidate the distinction?). Moreover, it’s asserted that managing everything merely necessitates a bit more time and financial resources (both of which are ample during a period of widespread inflation and a growing cost-of-living predicament).

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If in doubt, Blame the EU

According to certain commentators, Rishi Sunak, a prominent figure in the anti-Brexit movement, has made the decision to indefinitely maintain recognition of the CE mark within the UK, including Northern Ireland.

While this move might offer financial relief to some businesses, it raises questions about the fate of individuals engaged in devising, implementing, and overseeing the UKCA and UKNI marks. It’s worth noting that regardless of the outcome, some attribute the situation to the actions of Brussels and the European Union.

There’s a belief that things could have been significantly simpler, more streamlined, and cost-effective if the EU member states had chosen to embrace and adhere to UK regulations and standards, which, as proponents argue, are among the finest globally.

This perspective envisions a version of Brexit characterized by its proper execution. However, this prompts contemplation about the potential impact on one of the few thriving sectors in the UK—the production of bureaucratic procedures.

A Government spokesman has revealed: “The Windsor Framework is the best deal for Northern Ireland – restoring the smooth flow of goods with Great Britain and protecting its place in the Union. It cuts paperwork and checks compared to the old Protocol, lifts the bans on products like seed potatoes and provides a durable, sustainable basis for the future.”

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.