The regulation that should have led to the mandatory production of a new documentary chapter to export products to Great Britain starting from January 1st 2023 has been put on standby until 2025, but the matter is still open: will Brexit generate bureaucratic difficulties and protectionist behaviours or will there be a free circulation of goods despite the exit from the Union?
The Conformity Declaration is the requisite that allows the release on a market by an importer and the relative documentation or technical dossier is the documentary basis of each saleability assessment of a product in a Country. This preliminary assumption gives birth to EC mark, which until the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union was valid in England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland, too.
Brexit has then aroused a validity problem of the EC mark also in this market area and the British legislation had expressed the intention of creating a UKCA mark able to perform the same function as EC one on the specific market. The introduction of the UKCA marking obligation and of its presence for the marketing of products of Community origin had been established on January 1st 2023, but precisely at the end of last November they issued a decision by the British Government that has postponed the coming into force of this constraint to 2025 and has “granted” that the EC marking remains valid for the next two years as an entry ticket across the Channel.
We talk about that with Roberto Cordano, manager of Easy UKCA and expert in certifications for the export on the various European markets, who has followed the vicissitude with attention and comments it also from a broader point of view: «The coming into force of the UKCA marking was the necessary condition to start that process of regulatory divergence that was the logic landing of Brexit. With his decision, Rishi Sunak, the new Premier, not only avoids the organizational problems of the new system but he especially freezes the divergence for two years. Until 2025, at least, the United Kingdom, will not have its own regulation that is applicable to most of the products released on the market».
Substantially, the market seems protected against protectionist barriers, but Cordano, with a certain caution, does not exclude that protectionism comes back through the window after being kicked out: exporting companies might be requested to produce not customary documentary evidences in Europe or, or if they have to turn to a notified body, a British organism might be imposed at commercial level.
Courses and options
As already well-known, there are two distinct courses for mass-produced and custom products: until 2025, the first will be subjected to European Directives that often provide for a Conformity Self-Declaration based on a technical dossier.
In theory, nothing, or almost nothing changes, for the manufacturers of this product typology: it is just introduced the obligation of indicating the importer’s data in the product accompanying documentation and the obligation of conserving the Conformity Declaration and the technical file during 10 years is entrusted to the importer itself. These obligations, actually borrowed from the EC system, do not constitute a hindrance to export, if and only if the technical dossier exists and is complete. To avoid both commercial and legal problems, it is advisable that before exporting to the United Kingdom the completeness and the exhaustivity of the EC marking are in-house ascertained. «Certainly, – Cordano observes, – it is paradoxical to assess the EC marking to export outside the European Union but the operation makes sense and it is of undoubted usefulness until EC and UKCA regulations will be substantially identical».
Different the matter for custom products: there is an additional variable for them and it is constituted by British notified bodies that are the big damaged ones by the recent English decision: at the state of the art, in fact, EC bodies can issue valid certificates to export to the United Kingdom, but British bodies cannot do the same for the EC marking. It is a very clear asymmetry that some would like to eliminate with a Mutual Recognizement Agreement between EU and UK, but in a short term it might generate some reactions of protectionist kind. «It is not excluded, – Cordano in fact adds- that a customer in the United Kingdom might ask for the assessment by a third British body for the conformity of custom products. In that case, it is advisable to turn to an agency that takes care of the relationship with the notified body that, after all, speaks another language and has its own proceedings and idiosyncrasies».
The situation is open, Cordano ends: «We do not know if and when the regulatory divergence between Europe and United Kingdom will take place but, in extreme synthesis, those who want to be calm about the possibility of serving the UK market without suffering shocks must prepare appropriately for eventual changes, scrupulously conforming to our regulation, the EC community one, and be ready to interface with English bodies. Both suggestions are applicable to the specific refrigeration field that carries forward the quality and excellence of Made in Italy, a brand that is appreciated, even before being compliant, by the subjects of His Majesty Charles III».