UK in Brexit climbdown as safety rule deadline extended


The government has pushed back a deadline for the launch of post-Brexit product safety standards by allowing companies to follow EU rules until 2023, in the latest climbdown amid concerns over the economy.

Businesses will have an extra year to start using the new UKCA mark, which is planned to replace the EU’s CE mark used to certify that a wide range of products meet safety standards, including electrical goods and construction materials.

In the latest delay to post-Brexit reforms as firms struggle with disruption caused by the pandemic and leaving the EU, the government said firms would be given more time to adapt.

“Recognising the impact of the pandemic on businesses, the government will extend this deadline to 1 January 2023 to apply UKCA marks for certain products to demonstrate compliance with product safety regulations, rather than 1 January 2022,” the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.

Business leaders had said that forcing them to meet new UK rules, which will at first duplicate EU product standards, would come with significant cost at a delicate moment for the economy.

CE markings are required for a wide range of consumer products, from laptops to table lamps and hairdryers.

Ministers argue the UKCA mark will allow the UK to control its goods regulations while maintaining high safety standards. However, many businesses say the changes will force them to fill in reams of additional paperwork or make changes to their production lines, as manufacturers selling goods in both the EU and the UK will be forced to follow two regimes.

The postponement joins a long line of delays to post-Brexit rules undertaken by the government amid concern over the impact on businesses, jobs and the economy, including pushing back border controls for EU imports of animal origin.

William Bain, the head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the delay to the UKCA mark was welcome but added that fundamental problems in the post-Brexit system could damage British firms.

“Complex supply chains such as those in the automotive industry still face having to duplicate markings on certain components and incurring large costs for testing as a result,” he said. “This could compromise the output of these industries, limit availability of goods for consumers and create mounting cost pressures on British businesses.”