On Your Marks…Get Set to Trade in the EU
With the UK Government extending the period for accepting CE product marks until 2023, Cathrine Ripley considers how this extension fits in with the current landscape for UK manufacturers looking to continue trading in the EU following Brexit.
On 24 August 2021, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) amended its guidance, extending the time period for which CE product marks will continue to be accepted in Great Britain until 31 December 2022.
CE marks are a manufacturer’s assertion that its product meets all the EU’s essential safety requirements. Certain categories of product, ranging from toys to gas appliances, must bear the CE mark so they can be placed on the EU market. Manufacturers can demonstrate their compliance by declaring that they have taken appropriate steps or by having the product assessed by an EU-recognised “notified body”.
Following Brexit, the UK has adopted a new UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) mark, which fulfils the same function as the CE mark, but for the GB market. This UKCA mark is not recognised in the EU market, although for the time being the CE mark retains validity in Great Britain. Initially, the government had set a deadline of 1 January 2022, by which time manufacturers would have to adopt the new UKCA markings when placing goods on the GB market. However, BEIS’s updated guidance means that manufacturers will now have until 1 January 2023 before they need to start using the UKCA mark.
So, for the time being manufacturers trading in both Great Britain and the EU can continue to use just the CE mark to operate in both markets. UK manufacturers can use the CE mark, provided that one of the following conditions is met:
- The manufacturer applies the CE mark on the basis of self-declared conformity.
- An EU-recognised notified body carries out a third party-conformity assessment of the product.
- A certificate of conformity previously issued by a UK-approved body was transferred to an EU-recognised notified body before 1 January 2021.
However, UK manufacturers need to prepare to adopt the UKCA mark by 1 January 2023 (assuming there is no further extension of the deadline), for use in the GB market.
Products may carry both the CE mark and UKCA mark, provided they are compliant with both EU and UK regulations. Given the current lack of divergence between the two regimes, it is likely that this is the approach that most UK manufacturers will adopt, to avoid unnecessary costs in preparing two sets of the same product (i.e. one with the CE mark, the other with the UKCA mark).
However, this will only continue to be the case for as long as the UK’s product requirements remain the same as the EU’s. While the UK Government doesn’t appear to have any immediate plans to diverge from the EU’s product requirements regime, this may not be the case longer term and we will continue to monitor developments in this area.