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BSI agrees post-Brexit European standards alignment

New arrangement with CEN and CENELEC will allow UK industry to retain an influence over key European standards regardless of the final direction of Brexit

An agreement has been reached to ensure that the UK will continue to participate in the European standards system amidst pressure from industry bodies for government to address ongoing uncertainty over its Brexit position.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has confirmed that it will retain full membership of the CEN and CENELEC organisations under any new agreement, even potentially in the case that no deal can be reachred. This is intended to allow UK industry to maintain compliance with existing European standards, while being able to help shape future policy and requirements for sectors such as building services.

A range of bodies such as FETA had earlier this year jointly signed a letter with the BSI to urge the UK government to ensure continued participation within the work of key European standards bodies to ensure ongoing access for products.

BSI said that subsequent government support has helped ensure its has ongoing membership of CEN and CENELEC. The organisation said this was vital to meet one of its key policy aims since the European referendum in 2016 to ensure UK industry could play a role in developing and maintaining EU standards after Brexit.

A majority of trade associations, manufacturers, consume bodies and a range of stakeholders had also backed this position to remain part of the European standards system and ensure the UK has some influence around accessing 33 European markets, according to the BSI.

Government support

The UK parliament is yet to decide on the final terms of its preferred approach to Brexit, which is set to take place next March.  Government has nonetheless pledged to ensure the UK retains a voice within the European standards system.

These commitments are made in both the draft Withdrawal Act and technical notices concerning no deal being reached with the EU, as well as more recent attempts to set out a proposed exit deal.

The BSI added, “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.”

A transition period that will run until the end of 2020 for existing statutes has now been agreed that will include a derogation for the BSI from certain eligibility clauses.

An independent review of the BSI’s processes will take place over this period, with CEN and CENELEC introducing necessary revisions to its statutes.

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