The Government has admitted failure over its highly controversial plan to replace the EU’s gold standard CE safety mark with a UK-only label.
The UKCA mark would have been needed for thousands of products sold in Britain, from toys and kettles to medical implants and hot water boilers, to show they met UK standards.
The international delivery expert ParcelHero has long argued that, eventually, the compulsory introduction of UKCA markings on a huge range of products would have cost millions of pounds. Many new British-made products sold in the EU would still have required separate CE labelling.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Since February 2019, ParcelHero has campaigned tirelessly against the dogmatic and blinkered plan to replace the EU’s ubiquitous CE safety mark with a UK-only UKCA logo. The “Conformité Européene” (CE) branding clearly irritated Brexiteers, but the plan to replace it with “UK Conformity Assessed” (UKCA) labelling could have cost UK manufacturers millions of pounds.
‘The ultimate point of the legislation (apart from removing any mention of the word “Européene”) was that Britain could take back control and start to introduce its own standards which, potentially, could have diverged from those applied to CE-branded products. In such cases, the results of conformity tests carried out by UK assessment bodies would no longer be recognised by the EU. Consequently, it would no longer be possible to sell UKCA-passed products within the EU without reassessment by EU bodies.
‘The very idea that British-made goods would have to meet two sets of regulations as well as two sets of markings was clearly a red mark against the UK’s Brexit plans. Whoever thought this was acceptable?
‘The Government’s UKCA guidance page now carries a rather sheepish note saying, “The government intends to extend recognition of the CE marking for placing most goods on the market in Great Britain, indefinitely, beyond December 2024.”
In fact, 31 December 2024 is far from the first cancelled date. Back on 2 February 2019, when ParcelHero launched its campaign to have the UKCA safety stamp stamped out, the Government had just published “Prepare to use the UKCA mark after Brexit – using the UKCA marking if the UK leaves the EU without a deal”. It stated new British products introduced after 29 March 2019 would need to conform to the new standards. Though this page has long since been wiped, several other supposed deadlines for the adoption of the UKCA marking have come and gone.
‘Perhaps the ultimate barmy stroke in this much-postponed plan was that the UKCA marking alone would not have been permitted for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market, despite the fact Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. In fact, the Government’s website still says some products will need to display a separate “UKNI” marking, coupled with CE markings.
‘Many UK products, from electronics to patio doors, already show the new UKCA markings, as the scheme was phased in from 1 January 2021. Until this month’s belated climbdown, this labelling would have been compulsory for hundreds of new products from the end of next year.
‘British businesses are recovering from the worst of the impact of Brexit, but cannot afford any more Government decisions that make trading with our EU neighbours even harder. Like it or lump it, the EU is still Britain’s single largest trading partner. The impact of Covid and the war in Ukraine have left British manufacturers facing a hard enough time selling overseas. We cannot have any more Government interference that hobbles British businesses and ties one hand behind the backs of our manufacturers and retailers.
‘While the UK’s trade with the USA has not suffered a similar upheaval, there are still significant hurdles surrounding product compliance markings. In the US, there is no one common CE-style marking. Different types of products are regulated by different federal agencies. For example, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) oversees many retail goods. Additionally, some state laws and regulations are more stringent than US federal laws. ParcelHero’s USA page gives full details on Customs advice, sending food, prohibited items, etc.’