After intense negotiations and a nearly year-long transition period, the final chapter of Brexit finally opened at the end of 2020: The United Kingdom and the European Union reached an agreement on a new partnership treaty.
For this agreement, the terms of the long-term economic relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU were renegotiated.
The United Kingdom, i.e., the United Kingdom with the exception of Northern Ireland, will thus definitively no longer be part of the EU's internal market and customs union as of 01 January 2021.
What does this mean in concrete terms for the movement of goods and the conformity of products imported into the United Kingdom?
The new UKCA Mark – the British version of the CE Mark
As of 01 January 2021, the UKCA mark (United Kingdom Conformity Assessed) will be introduced as the new product marking for the British market. It is intended to replace the European CE marking in the UK, in the long term. In other words, manufacturers will in future have to affix the UKCA mark to their products before they enter the market to confirm that the safety, environmental, and health protection requirements applicable to their product have been met.
What specifically is changing for manufacturers?
The UK is initially transposing existing EU legislation into national law. Against this background, the norms and standards harmonised by the EU will be converted into so-called UK-designated standards. The technical requirements and conformity assessment procedures for a product will therefore remain unchanged for the time being.
When must the UKCA Mark be used?
On 01 August 2023, the United Kingdom surprised us once again with an announcement regarding the validity of the CE mark. This announced that the CE mark would be retained indefinitely. With this step, the British government is bowing to pressure from both industry and manufacturers. Business Secretary Kevin Hollinrake told the Guardian,
"By extending CE marking use across the UK, firms can focus their time and money on creating jobs and growing the economy."
The original plan was to make the new UKCA mark mandatory as the sole conformity mark from Jan. 1, 2025.
According to the announcement, both the CE and UKCA marks can be used. Companies should therefore be allowed to use the UKCA mark in addition to the CE mark.
In addition, it is important to note that the indefinite extension of the CE marking applies only to those products that are covered by the regulations issued by the Department for Business and Trade. A list of these products is provided on the website of the British Government . What regulations apply to products not included in this list is unknown at this time.
What's next for the economic relationship between the two partners?
With Brexit and the introduction of its own safety seal, London wanted to finally break away from EU bureaucracy – at least that was the plan. The extension of CE marking is another example of how this plan does not seem to be working out for the British government.
Exactly which products will be covered by the indefinite extension will become clear in the coming months. For example, in addition to the Department for Business and Trade, other ministries have already communicated plans to recognise CE marking.
In any case, we will keep you up to date with all the latest news on the subject of UKCA and CE marking.