The UK government’s Department for Business & Trade has announced an indefinite extension, beyond December 2024, of the CE marking for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
The CE (Conformité Européenne) marking is used in the European Union to certify that products traded in the single market of the European Economic Area are compliant and meet specific safety, health or environmental standards. The CE marking applies to products including but not limited to toys, aerosols, machinery, gas appliances, PPE and measuring instruments.
Following Brexit, the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking was introduced to replace the CE marking for products being sold domestically in Great Britain. A separate marking, the UKNI, would be used for goods being placed on the market in Northern Ireland. The CE mark would still be required for goods being exported to countries in the European Union.
The UKCA marking requirements include conformity assessment processes and standards that mirror existing rules for CE marking and state that the UKCA mark must be visible and legible when affixed to products, packaging and accompanying documents.
The UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021 and was due to be implemented from 1 January 2022. However, following feedback from businesses, the implementation and transition dates for the new marking have been extended several times.
While the UKCA marking is now expected to be implemented from the start of 2025, the new announcement means that the CE marking will still be recognised on products sold in Great Britain after this date.
Paul Butterworth, CEO of Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said: “The indefinite extension of the use and recognition of CE marking will be a relief for small and medium sized businesses in Wales, and will be particularly welcomed by manufacturers.
“This move provides more certainty to businesses, as well as allowing businesses more time to familiarise themselves with the new UKCA and UKNI standards ahead of 2025 if they choose to use both the UKCA and CE systems for goods being sold in Great Britain.”
William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses will breathe a sigh of relief that the Government has decided to take a pragmatic approach to the safety marking of products sold in Great Britain.
“With inflation still high and interest rates continuing to rise, this announcement will bring some welcome respite. There would be significant costs involved in removing the usage of the CE mark, even for just the UK internal market.
“BCC research carried out in 2021 found that only 8% of business were in favour of getting rid of the current EU marking system, called CE, by the start of 2023, and 59% of businesses, affected by the decision, wanted to keep it.
“They saw strong benefits in retaining the most recognised system for testing and marking of industrial and electrical goods for business. Having to use two marking systems, one for in the UK and one for the EU market, would have also led to limited choice for customers if firms decided not to do both.
“This outcome means businesses will be able to decide which system to use, or both. This will also helps firms in Northern Ireland and Great Britain in terms of the operation of the Windsor Framework.
“The BCC strongly made the case for continued use of CE marking to Government for more than two years. It is a relief to see the strong voice of businesses across the UK on this issue being acted upon.
“Now we must develop processes for regulatory co-operation between the EU and UK, so that businesses can avoid any unnecessary cliff-edges on the introduction of future regulations affecting UK-EU trade in goods.”