Equivalence is not the same

The familiar CE quality mark is far more important than it might appear at first sight. It is the first line of defence in meeting product liability requirements. The presence of the CE graphic assures consumers that the product concerned meets all the EU safety regulations and can be sold legally within the EU. CE stands for conformite europenne (conforms to European regulations).

At some point in the Brexit planning stages, someone had the bright idea of devising a British equivalent to reassure consumers that post-Brexit British goods complied with British legal requirements. It would have been better if someone had spotted the looming problem and canned the UKCA lookalike quality mark before releasing it on an unsuspecting public. No such luck, it just gets worse.

The UK parliament’s control of the quality mark and its use is limited to, well, the UK. It has no status or relevance in continental Europe, for which it was intended. Brussels does not recognise the mark, nor is there any reason why it should. UK plans to drop accreditation for the original CE mark have suddenly been put on hold, as businesses complained that they genuinely need the CE mark for their export goods. As part of the CE accreditation, a substantial chunk of EU law, previously earmarked for dumping, will now have to be kept on the statute book for the UK’s claim to continue issuing CE marks to be valid.

It is the kind of own-goal for which Brexit is becoming infamous. There is the mild embarrassment of having to retain EU laws that some in government wanted to clear out so as to make room for other things. The requirement to organise and fund two separate product certification applications, not to mention the additional testing fees, has unsettled many businesses, faced with having to pay twice. More to the point, UKCA cannot replace the CE mark outside UK borders, nor will Brussels ever recognise it.

Follow this link for a guide to UKCA and CE requirements.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.