The UK and EU have reached an agreement over their future trading relationship, so there is finally some clarity for machine builders
Officially the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 but there was a transition period until 31 December 2020 during which the UK and EU negotiated their future trading relationship. Throughout 2020 trade continued as before but with little idea about what would happen on 1 January 2021.
When the trade negotiations concluded on 24 December there was finally some clarity for machine builders, both UK businesses exporting to the EU and those from the EU and elsewhere supplying the UK market. Importantly, the UK-EU free trade agreement promises a level playing field, which should minimise the changes required of machine builders exporting from the UK to the EU and vice versa.
Speaking at a press conference on 24 December, immediately after the deal was announced, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK is now outside the customs union and outside the single market, yet the new free trade agreement has no tariffs and no quotas. Although Mr Johnson said there will be no non-tariff barriers to trade, businesses faced with increases in bureaucracy relating to exports and imports may dispute that point. Mr Johnson also referred to ‘mutual recognition’ but, despite reviewing the 1246-page agreement, we cannot confirm whether that means the UK will recognise and accept CE marking and the EU will do the same with UKCA marking.
This present article outlines the basics but more detail is bound to emerge in the coming weeks and months. To keep up to date with the situation, make sure you subscribe to the MachineBuilding.net email newsletter.
UK machine builders exporting to the EU
Strictly speaking, we should be referring not to the EU but the EEA (European Economic Area). The EEA comprises the 27 EU member states plus three countries from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), namely Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland is also included because of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) it has with the EU. Furthermore, Turkey, the Principality of Andorra and the Republic of San Marino are covered by Customs Union Agreements that enable the free movement of goods between those three states and the EU.
From 1 January 2021 UK machine builders exporting to any of these countries must ensure their machines are CE marked, which is exactly as they should have been doing prior to and during the transition period.
However, there is one important change they need to make. For machinery and safety components that fall within the scope of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, the Declaration of Conformity (DoC) has always required the name and address of a person authorised to compile the technical file. Now, with the UK no longer part of the EU, that person must be established in the EEA. Many UK machine builders will therefore have to find someone in the EEA to fulfil this role. If the company does not have a distributor or representative in the EEA willing to take on this responsibility, there are companies based in the EU (including the Republic of Ireland) that will do so for a small fee.
For partly completed machinery that is supplied with a Declaration of Incorporation (DoI) instead of a DoC, the situation is the same: a person established in the EEA must be named on the DoI from 1 January 2021.
Where conformity assessment of Annex IV machinery has previously been undertaken by a Notified Body, the EU will cease to recognise EC type-examination certificates previously provided by UK Notified Bodies. In most cases the UK Notified Bodies will already have transferred the accreditation to another EU-based Notified Body, but UK machine builders should satisfy themselves that this has been done or, if not, take steps urgently to secure certification by an EU Notified Body.
UK machine builders supplying the UK market
Here in the UK, CE marking is being replaced by UKCA marking (UK Conformity Assessed marking) from 1 January 2021. This covers most goods but, if you are reading this, the important point is that machinery is included. Safety components are also included if they are within the scope of the UK’s Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations – which are the UK implementation of the EU Machinery Directive and are remaining in force post-Brexit.
The process for UKCA marking is identical to that for CE marking, so there is no ‘learning curve’ for machine builders. Nevertheless, machines will require a UKCA logo instead of a CE logo and the documentation will need to be updated.
According to advice published by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) in September 2020 – and believed to be unaltered by the new trade agreement – until 1 January 2022 the UKCA mark can be applied to accompanying documentation only if preferred but, from 1 January 2023, the UKCA mark must be used on both the documentation and the machine itself.
Whereas CE marking requires a person established in the EEA to be named on the DoC or DoI, there is no such requirement in the draft ‘Mega SI’ (statutory instrument) that is converting much EU law into UK law post-Brexit; in fact, the person authorised to compile the technical file can be anywhere in the world. The technical file must, however, be in English.
Another change to be made in the documentation is that references to harmonised standards need to refer instead to designated standards, and standard numbers should be prefixed with BS (for British Standard) instead of EN (for Euronorm).
Where conformity assessment of Annex IV machinery has previously been undertaken by a Notified Body, the relevant bodies in the UK are now known as UK Market Conformity Assessment Bodies (UKMCABs) and most UK Notified Bodies are being converted automatically to Approved Bodies. Machine builders should therefore check with their Notified/Approved Body and update their documentation accordingly.
EU machine builders supplying the UK market
The HSE and BEIS had previously stated that CE marking can be used for certain products placed on the UK market until 1 January 2022. We cannot see anything in the new trade agreement that contradicts this, so we believe this advice still stands.
Furthermore, until 1 January 2022 the UKCA mark can be applied to accompanying documentation only if preferred but, from 1 January 2023, the UKCA mark must be used on both the documentation and the machine itself.
EU companies exporting machines to the UK will only need to update their documentation and apply the UKCA mark. As outlined earlier, labelling, references and terminology will need to be amended to suit the UK market, but it is not necessary to appoint an authorised representative in the UK.
Where conformity assessment of Annex IV machinery has previously been undertaken by a Notified Body, it appears that type examination certificates will now be required from a UK Approved Body and the machine UKCA marked accordingly.
Machine builders from the rest of the world supplying the UK market
The situation for machine builders outside the EU exporting to the UK is the same as for EU companies. Machine builders from the rest of the world only need to update their documentation and labelling to show that the machine has been UKCA marked instead of CE marked.
Where conformity assessment of Annex IV machinery has previously been undertaken by a Notified Body, it appears that type examination certificates will now be required from a UK Approved Body and the machine needs to be UKCA marked accordingly.
As outlined above, there is a transition period during which CE marking can continue to be used on machines placed on the market in the UK.
Machine builders in GB supplying the Northern Ireland market
The Northern Ireland Protocol takes effect on 1 January 2021 and, as long as it remains in force, Northern Ireland will align with all relevant EU rules relating to the placing on the market of manufactured goods. CE marking can therefore continue to be used. However, if conformity assessment of Annex IV machinery is being undertaken by a UK Approved Body, then the machine must also display the UKNI mark. Note that both the CE and UKNI marks must be displayed, the UKNI mark is not to be used on its own. UK Approved Bodies can continue to act as Notified Bodies for the Northern Ireland market from 1 January 2021.
Machine builders in Northern Ireland supplying the UK market
The UK Government is guaranteeing that businesses in Northern Ireland can enjoy unfettered access to the whole of the UK market from 1 January 2021. This means that machine builders in Northern Ireland can place machines on the market in Great Britain displaying whatever conformity assessment markings have been applied in Northern Ireland – which could be CE marking or CE and UKNI marking.
Machine builders in Northern Ireland supplying the EU market
Because of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which takes effect on 1 January 2021, Northern Ireland will align with all relevant EU rules relating to the placing on the market of manufactured goods. Machine builders in Northern Ireland can therefore continue CE marking machines and placing them on the market in the EU.
Machine builders from the EU and rest of the world supplying the EU market
Just for completeness, there are no changes to the way machine builders in the EU or the rest of the world supply the EU market.
Hopefully the above provides the information machine builders need in order to continue trading from 1 January 2021 onwards. More detail is bound to emerge in due course and we will keep readers of MachineBuilding.net updated. Check the website, follow us on social media, and subscribe to the MachineBuilding.net email newsletter to stay up to date.