» UKAS Customer Brexit Update

16 October, 2018

UKAS has recently written to all its customers setting out in detail the preparations we are making as the UK prepares to leave the European Union and how we will continue to consult widely with our customers and wider stakeholders to ensure their priorities and concerns are reflected in our discussions with Government.  

A copy of this communication is included below: 

 

Dear Customer,

As the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is rapidly approaching, I wanted to update you on the preparations UKAS has been making and to reassure you that the vast majority of accreditations should be unaffected by Brexit.

Following the outcome of the Referendum on EU membership in June 2016, UKAS carried out extensive consultation with Customers, Stakeholders, Members and our Board to establish the priorities for UKAS in the Brexit process. As a result of this consultation, UKAS established the following main objectives for UKAS and accreditation in the Brexit process in order to protect the interests of UKAS, of UKAS accredited organisations and their customers:

  • The continuation of UKAS’ recognition as the UK National Accreditation Body under UK law.
  • UKAS continues as a member of EA, ILAC and IAF in order to safeguard the European and international recognition of accreditation and accredited services.
  • There is continued access to UK based notified bodies, or other mutually recognised bodies, to provide conformity assessment required by EU legislation.
  • Mutual recognition of conformity assessment is factored into any new trade agreement between the UK and the EU.
  • Accreditation is given due recognition in any new international trade agreements that emerge.

In order to ensure that these objectives are fully understood and acted upon, regular meetings have been held with Ministers and officials in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) and the Department for International Trade (DIT). Briefing notes and a bespoke information leaflet have been distributed widely across Government at Ministerial and Official level and to key Parliamentarians. Information has been provided to customers and other stakeholders through regular articles in our Update magazine and a separate information page on the UKAS website, updated as required.

Progress

Good progress has been made against all the objectives set out. Assurances have been received, including at Ministerial level, that the principles of EU Regulation 765/2008, that provides the legal framework for accreditation, will be adopted into UK legislation by the EU Withdrawal Act and that our appointment as the National Accreditation Body will continue.

The European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) has confirmed that UKAS can continue as a member during the transition period proposed until December 2020. EA has also agreed to allow a two year period of grace for any member body that can no longer meets the membership criteria and to consider changes to the membership criteria to ensure that UKAS can continue as a member body beyond this date. UKAS’ membership of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) will continue unaffected by Brexit.

The proposed transition period also provides certainty that the work of UK Notified Bodies will continue to be recognised during this time.

The Government has confirmed its intention to seek to ensure that ‘manufacturers should only need to undergo one series of tests in either market’ and that there is ‘a jointly agreed accreditation framework to provide mutual assurance that UK and EU conformity assessments are robust’ (Government White Paper: The future relationship between the UK and the EU – July 2018). Thus confirming the need for mutual recognition of accreditation and conformity assessment in any trade agreement with the EU.

Discussions have been held with DIT officials preparing for trade agreements with countries outside the EU during which the principle of mutual recognition of accredited conformity assessment has been accepted.

‘No Deal’ scenario planning for Notified Bodies

As reported in the press, the Government has recently released a number of Technical Notices on its planning for the eventuality that the UK leaves the EU without agreement being reached, including one on ‘Trading goods regulated under the new approach if there is no Brexit deal’. The Notice confirms that it remains the Government’s intention to secure a negotiated outcome with the EU but sets out the arrangements likely to be put in place if this is not possible.

The Notice confirms that, under a ‘No Deal’ scenario, UKAS’s role as the national accreditation body would remain as now and this confirmation is helpful. However, it also confirms that the work of UK Notified Bodies would no longer be recognised in the EU and suggests that a new UK mark would be introduced to replace the current CE marking. It confirms that the technical requirements would initially remain the same and proposes that UK Notified Bodies would be granted UK ’approved body’ status. It also suggests that CE marked products would continue to be accepted on the UK market for a ‘time-limited’ period.

The publication of this paper has generated concern among the UKAS customer base and particularly those acting as Notified Bodies. The suggestion that CE marked products would continue to be accepted on the UK market has caused particular concern. In recent meetings with BEIS, UKAS has discussed the implications of these proposals and has set out clearly the detrimental impact this could have on the provision of conformity assessment in the UK and consequently on UK businesses more generally. UKAS has been assured that these issues are fully understood and that further clarification will be provided in due course.

Conclusions

UKAS understands that the current uncertainty about the outcome of Brexit is causing concern amongst our customer organisations. It is recognised that leaving the EU without an agreement being in place could have serious implications for those customers acting as Notified Bodies. However, the vast majority of customers should be reassured to know that UKAS’ status as the National Accreditation Body will continue whatever the outcome and that the national and international recognition of certificates issued by UKAS and UKAS accredited organisations will continue under the multilateral agreements regardless of the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations.

I hope this letter will help to reassure you of the efforts being made on your behalf and of the likely impact of the different scenarios. If you have any comments or questions please do not hesitate to contact me at jeff.ruddle@ukas.com 

Yours Sincerely,

 

 

 

Jeff Ruddle

UKAS Operations Director