Now that the UK has left the EU single market, companies which have hitherto sold their products with CE markings are required to change to use the UKCA mark (UK Conformity Assessed) for products placed in the GB market. In most cases (although not all) there is a changeover period – a transition period, one might say. It varies according to product but in many cases the period is 12 months from 1 January 2021.
This is an important change, and the business department (BEIS) is, rightly, urging companies to take the necessary steps now, rather than put off until later in the year. Manufacturing and engineering firms need to understand what is required and to ensure that they will be able to meet the necessary deadlines – including completing testing by Approved Bodies, where that is necessary. And there are specific requirements for Northern Ireland, and the UKNI mark. Should any serious issues arise, BEIS will be keen to hear about them in good time.
One aspect of UKCA remains to be addressed: why it exists. With the intense activity around Brexit and the end of transition, the government appears to have overlooked publishing a statement as to the purpose of the UKCA mark. There is plenty of information as to what it is looks like, what products must have it and when: but not why.
Companies will adopt the UKCA mark because they are required to, and progress towards that will, no doubt, be appearing as an agenda item in board rooms around the country. It seems reasonable for companies across the supply chain – and the general public – to expect there to be a clear statement as to why we have the UKCA.
Such a statement is easily found on europa.eu The CE letters “signify that products sold in the EEA have been assessed to meet high safety, health and environmental protection requirements”, and more.
The UK government should take the opportunity, not simply to rehash what the EU says, but to make its own clear statement of purpose, backed by a commitment to effective enforcement. That would help to strengthen the mark and its value to business and to public safety, not only at home but, importantly, in export markets, and would support the promotion of Global Britain.
*Separately, the Manufacturing Technologies Association, and EAMA member, has published a guide to the UKCA mark available here: www.mta.org.uk/resources/mta-guide-ukcace-marking-4th-edition