Get ready for Brexit!

Mark Butcher attended the UK Government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards Business Reference Panel in Westminster today to gain further insight into the current thinking about Brexit and it’s impact on the compliance landscape both within the UK and Internationally. Discussion topics included domestic regulation, future trade, and import export-strategy.

The various panels were largely in ‘discovery mode’ with a view to better understand concerns from industry. There was some good discussion and some key points are below:

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CURRENT STATUS

  • DEXEU’s position remains that the result of the referendum will be respected and the government will leave the EU on 31st October. A deal is preferable
  • There is recognition that the UK should and could be better prepared but also that “we are better prepared than people think”
  • 780 pieces of guidance have been issued but communication was highlighted as an issue - both in relation to comprehension of guidance by non-technical stakeholders and timeliness of information due to challenges with uploading to gov.uk

TRADE

  • the UK is anticipating a ‘trade liberal approach’ citing its transitional period with a  ‘continuity approach’ (eg continuing to acknowledge EU certifications) and intentions not to compromise animal welfare or food safety standards 
  • whether this is to be mirrored on the EU remains an unknown and hence uncertainty prevails 
  • the temporary tariffs published on 13 March remain relevant but are also likely to be superseded (timelines unclear). If your product is not listed, you should assume a tariff of 0%
  • multiple sectors expressed concerns that although the generic messages are clear, there are many sector specific issues that are less clear, and on some occasions contradict other information sources - the specific example referneced was organic certification 

HELP

  • gov.uk remains the primary source of information but it is recommended that you sign up the e-alert facility to ensure you are kept up to date
  • trade bodies and membership communities will be used to aid communication, manage uncertainty and deal with sector specific interpretation
  • there was a genuine desire from the many civil servants in the room to help businesses of all sizes: there are a number of webinars and roadshows planned but if you would like to be connected directly please get in touch