UK to keep EU Product Safety Symbol In Post-Brexit Climbdown

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UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – The UK government has made a significant decision to indefinitely recognize the EU’s product safety symbol, marking a notable climbdown post-Brexit. Originally, starting from the end of next year, products such as light bulbs and toys were expected to bear a new UK-only mark for sale in Great Britain. However, the business department has now confirmed that the EU symbol will continue to be accepted on most goods.

The Move Is Welcomed By The Trade Union UK

This move has been welcomed by trade body Make UK, as it brings about increased certainty. However, the manufacturing group has criticized the government’s handling of the issue, citing a history of last-minute policy changes that have resulted in unnecessary costs.

Since 1993, the conformité européenne (CE) mark has been utilized to demonstrate that a wide range of products meet EU legal requirements and have undergone testing.

For products sold in England, Wales, and Scotland, the CE mark was scheduled to be replaced by a new UKCA symbol from December 2024. However, under the terms of its separate Brexit arrangements, the CE mark was set to remain in use in Northern Ireland.

This situation would have forced manufacturers selling products in both Great Britain and the European Union to comply with two different standards, leading to increased costs and potential divergence over time.

The Proposal Will Give Ministers Control Over Goods 

Despite concerns from the industry, the government had previously defended the proposal, arguing that it would grant ministers control over goods regulation and ensure that regulations benefit British businesses and consumers.

However, the business department has now announced that the CE mark will be recognized indefinitely in 18 areas, including toys, fireworks, lifts, radio equipment, and protective gear.

In these specific areas, British firms now have the option to choose between using the new UKCA symbol or retaining the CE mark by applying for certification from an accredited European body. 

However, regulations for other sectors such as medical devices and construction equipment will still be determined by different government departments. The implementation of this new system has faced numerous delays, which the government attributes to the challenging economic conditions resulting from the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine. 

The UK Business Department To Accept EU Safety Symbols

To alleviate the burden on businesses and provide certainty, the business department has announced indefinite recognition of both symbols. Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake emphasized that this decision was made in response to industry feedback and aims to support job creation and economic growth by allowing companies to allocate their resources more effectively.

The manufacturers organization, Make UK, praised the government’s pragmatic approach but criticized their handling of the proposed changes, citing last-minute policy alterations that have caused unnecessary uncertainty and expenses. 

Industry stakeholders have long expressed concerns that the full implementation of UKCA labeling would hinder trade, increase administrative burdens, and incur additional costs. However, this announcement is seen as a positive step in safeguarding the competitiveness of manufacturers and attracting investment to the UK.

Read More: UK Citizens Traveling To Europe To Undergo Fingerprint and Face Scans

The Small Business Federation Willing To Accept The Proposal 

The Federation of Small Businesses also welcomed the continued recognition of CE marked products, as it enables their members to concentrate on expanding their businesses domestically and internationally.

The UK has made the decision to indefinitely retain the EU’s product safety mark, known as the CE (Conformité Européenne) mark. This decision comes as a result of the government yielding to pressure from industry and manufacturers, marking yet another retreat from proposed post-Brexit changes.

The CE mark is utilized by the European Union to certify that a wide array of products, ranging from electrical goods and construction materials to medical devices and toys, meet the required safety standards.

Initially, it was anticipated that the CE mark would be replaced by a new UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark for goods sold in Great Britain by the end of 2024. However, due to multiple extensions to the changeover deadline, the government has now decided to maintain the use of the CE mark.

Businesses have strongly advocated for the extension of the CE mark, arguing that imposing new UK regulations, which initially duplicate EU product standards, would result in significant costs. This comes at a time when many businesses are grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic and persistently high inflation.

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.