Business

Brexit: UK plans new product safety mark for 'no deal' scenario

iphone mock-up Image copyright HM Government
Image caption Products meeting the standard would carry the UKCA symbol, such as in this mock-up

The government has drawn up plans to replace the CE safety symbol on products in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the BBC has learned.

Household items such as kettles, light bulbs and toys are stamped with the letters CE.

The mark belongs to the European Union, so if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, goods will have to be stamped with a new symbol - UKCA.

Some manufacturers are concerned that such a change will be costly.

Since 1993, the CE mark has shown consumers that an item meets EU legal requirements and has been tested.

The new logo drawn up by the UK government stands for UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA).

'Another cost'

Officials are expected to unveil the logo shortly.

"A UK mark would provide confidence to consumers and to the authorities that these products meet UK regulatory requirements," Scott Steedman of the British Standards Institution told the BBC.

"It provides flexibility for government should there be divergence of regulations to insist that manufacturers were committing to that UK regulatory practice in future," he said.

Image copyright HM Government
Image caption The symbol could replace the CE mark in the UK on products such as this toy

If the new logo is to be used, companies would have to change their packaging, advertising and an element of the products themselves.

For manufacturers, that will mean a one-off cost.

"In a very short period of time, thousands of companies are going to have to spend millions of pounds collectively on changing all their markings to comply with the new mark," Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the manufacturers' organisation EEF, told the BBC.

"It's another cost as a result of not doing a deal on Brexit," he said.

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Goods made in the UK which are exported to the European Union may have to be stamped with two marks - CE for EU markets and UKCA for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

For some products that could also mean two sets of tests, as EU nations may not recognise ones done by UK organisations.

"Products which were assessed by a UK-based notified body will need to be reassessed by an EU-recognised conformity assessment body before placing on the EU market," explained part of the government's no deal planning guidance for manufacturers.

If there is no deal, at the end of March or later, product makers will not have to adopt the new UKCA marking straight away.

It is expected that companies will be given a period of grace.

That means all the products on the shelves and in warehouses which have the CE mark on them can still be sold legally in the UK.

In a previous no-deal planning notice, the government said "goods made and assessed against EU regulatory requirements can continue to be placed on the UK market after 29 March 2019. This is intended to be for a time-limited period."

A consultation on the length of time is likely to take place.

The government insists delivering a deal remains its priority, but it is accelerating no-deal preparations to ensure businesses are prepared for the end of March.

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