The UK government has decided to recognise the EU’s product safety symbol indefinitely, in a post-Brexit climbdown.
From the end of next year, goods such as light bulbs and toys were meant to carry a new UK-only mark to be sold in Great Britain.
However, the business department has now confirmed the EU symbol will continue to be accepted on most goods.
Trade body Make UK welcomed the move, saying it would increase certainty.
But the manufacturing group criticised ministers’ handling of the issue, saying a history of “last-minute policy changes” had created unnecessary costs.
Since 1993, the conformité européenne (CE) mark has been used to show a wide variety of products meet EU legal requirements and have been tested.
For products sold in England, Wales and Scotland it was due to be replaced by a new UKCA symbol from December 2024. The CE mark was due to remain in Northern Ireland under the terms of its separate Brexit arrangements.
It meant manufacturers selling products in both Great Britain and the European Union faced having to meet two differing standards, which would have added to their costs and might have diverged over time.
Despite industry fears, the government previously defended the proposal, arguing it would enable ministers to “take control” of goods regulation, and “ensure” regulations work for British businesses and consumers.
However, the business department has now announced the CE mark will be recognised indefinitely in 18 areas, including toys, fireworks, lifts, radio equipment, and protective gear.
It means in these areas, British firms will be able to choose whether to use the new UKCA symbol or retain the CE mark by applying to have their products certified by an accredited European body.
Rules for other areas, including medical devices and construction equipment, would continue to be determined by other government departments, it said.
‘Common sense decision’
The introduction of the new system had been repeatedly delayed, with the government blaming the difficult economic conditions following the pandemic and as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Announcing the move, the business department said indefinite recognition would “cut burdens” for business and “create certainty”.
“We have listened to industry and we are taking action to deliver,” business minister Kevin Hollinrake said.
“By extending CE marking use across the UK, firms can focus their time and money on creating jobs and growing the economy.”
The manufacturers’ organisation Make UK welcomed what it called a “pragmatic and common sense decision” but it criticised the government’s handling of the proposed changes.
“This has been an area of policy which has been typified by last minute policy changes, creating unnecessary uncertainty and cost,” said Stephen Phipson, the group’s CEO.
“Industry has long been concerned that the full introduction of UKCA labelling would be damaging by erecting a barrier to trade and adding administrative burdens and cost.
“This announcement will help safeguard the competitiveness of manufacturers and aid the UK as a destination for investment.”
A spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses said they welcome the continued recognition of CE marked products, which would allow their members to focus on growing their business at home and overseas.
Source : BBC