PLASA Members’ Area

Brexit Standards update

Most PLASA members will rely on European standardisation to enable products to be sold and imported within the EEA without restrictions. Following the Brexit vote, there was a possibility that the UK would have to resign membership of both European Standards Organizations CEN and CENELEC as according to the rules, only EU members (or those on the route to membership) can join either standards body. Unsurprisingly, nothing in the committee rules discusses what to do with departing members which left the UK facing a standards exit too (Stexit?!)

However, as hoped sense has prevailed and the General Assemblies of CEN and CENELEC approved a plan that secures BSI’s full membership post-Brexit. According to the press release, the decisions “will enable UK industry and other stakeholders to continue their important work shaping and maintaining best practice standards used across Europe and internationally.

They also mean that UK experts will continue as chairs, convenors, committee members and policy experts to work on maintaining and developing the 20,000 European standards that are managed by CEN and CENELEC. Standards users in the UK can continue to be confident that these standards will meet their needs as they will be influenced, as now, by UK stakeholders.” This is a relief as the UK plays a considerable role in many European standards committees.

UK membership of CEN and CENELEC provides influence over market access conditions in 33 other European countries. In addition, CEN and CENELEC members play a vital role in the international standards system through ISO and IEC. Influencing international standards is crucial in ensuring the future global competitiveness of the UK. The support of government for maintaining the UK position within the European standards system has been vital to secure this outcome. Government support for BSI’s position was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark in June and in the July 2018 Brexit White Paper, and is reflected in the Withdrawal Act and ‘no deal’ technical notices.

The latest version of the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU also stresses alignment on technical barriers to trade issues, including standards. CEN and CENELEC members supported proposals to facilitate BSI’s continuation as a full member and recognized that although there is an important link between their work and European and national regulation, pan-European technical cooperation in the development and maintenance of standards is primarily a market-led activity.

Further information and a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) are available on the BSI Brexit and standards webpage.