At the eleventh hour, the EU and the UK signed a trade deal that came into effect on 1 January 2021. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) now sets the UK’s new relationship with the EU in stone.
After 47 years, the UK is no longer part of the EU Single Market and Customs Union and is neither bound to EU policies nor EU international agreements. Essentially, this creates two distinct regulatory and legal boundaries that do not share access to the freedoms of movement for people, goods, services, and capital. As a result, this may reintroduce Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) in respects to goods which had not been in place for decades. These new conditions will result in customs checks and additional paperwork which would result in delays on both sides of the Channel. To assess the state of play, TIC Council outlines below what is set to change for the Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) sector with regards to the TCA’s impact on relations and regulatory requirements between the EU and UK.
After the new year, the UK is in the eyes of the EU, a third country, where Technical Barriers to Trade matters will be subject to the WTO TBT Agreement as well as the relevant provisions specified in Article 6 of the TCA.
In Article 6 of the TBT Chapter, addresses conformity assessment. It includes language favourable to Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) as a means of demonstrating compliance. TIC Council strongly believes that trade agreements should not prescribe the method of demonstrating conformity. Regulators should have the prerogative and flexibility to choose the appropriate method of assessing conformity according to their risk assessment, policy objectives, market characteristics, and confidence needs. The TIC Council endorses the principles of consistency and neutrality which trade agreements should promote with comprehensive, high-standard, and market-opening provisions for all industries.
TIC Council does welcome the TCA’s chapters on Good Regulatory Practices (GRP) and Regulatory Cooperation between both the EU and UK. These GRPs seem to be consistent with internationally recognized GRP principles. Lastly, the TCA TBT Chapter includes a comprehensive framework for cooperation on market surveillance and product safety. An Annex will soon be established to implement an arrangement for the exchange of information between the alert systems of the EU and the UK.
As the approval stage concludes amongst the EU Council, the EU Parliament, and the UK Parliament, TIC Council wishes to express its determination to provide support for all members implementing the new rules. Therefore, we would like to share with you our Brexit Guidance Page here. This page contains guidance documents provided by the UK government on the new legal framework for CABs operating in the UK.
Last but not least, be sure to read TIC Council’s Position Paper regarding Trade Negotiations here. This provides our expert recommendations to ensure the principles of consumer safety, market accessibility, and high regulatory objectives are implemented.
Intertek Vice President, Public & Government Affairs
TIC Council Trade WG Lead