DBT clarifies which sectors will benefit from CE mark extension and announces product safety revamp

Wed 2 Aug 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

EU Conformity Mark

Following the news that manufacturers can continue using the CE mark indefinitely for several products placed on the UK market, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has today (2 August) announced plans to revamp product safety rules.

It has also clarified which sectors will benefit from the CE mark extension, with medical devices and  construction services among those not covered by yesterday’s announcement. Businesses in these sectors will need to continue to prepare to use the UK’s own quality assurance mark.

Product safety revamp

Today’s announcement focuses on the UK’s product safety laws, which the government said are over 30 years and will be “overhauled in a bid to make them fit for emerging technologies and new shopping habits.”

DBT said that revamping the regulation is a “benefit of Brexit”, helping it to “cut business costs and reduce unnecessary red tape”. As part of the refresh, DBT plans to introduce e-labelling for products.

“I am determined to use our post-Brexit freedoms to identify outdated EU laws placing unnecessary burdens on business and reform them to benefit both companies and consumers,” said trade and business minister Kemi Badenoch.

“These changes will provide better consumer protections while upholding our world-leading safety standards and will also cut costs for business to ensure they have the freedom they need to innovate and thrive, helping to create jobs and grow the economy.”

DBT is launching a public consultation on the plans, which will run until 24 October 2023.

CE mark clarification

It’s been a busy week for DBT, with the department yesterday announcing that it is indefinitely extending the use of the CE mark within the UK, saving manufacturers from facing a “cliff edge” at the end of next year when they would have had to start using the UK’s post-Brexit equivalent, the UKCA mark, for trade within the UK.

However, the FT reports that there was some “uncertainty” caused by the announcement, as two sectors – medical devices and construction services – were not covered by the extension.

DBT has since clarified that the extension will only apply to the sectors affected by the 18 regulations it oversees, which are listed here.

Deadlines

The Construction Products Association (CPA) yesterday issued a notice to warn its members that the sector was unaffected by the extension and that the CE mark will continue to be recognised in the UK for affected products until 30 June 2025, at which point the UKCA mark will become a mandatory requirement.

The government published an update relating to upcoming deadlines relating to the use of the CE mark for medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) here.

The British Healthcare Traders Association (BHTA) has called on government to provide “urgent clarification” on the outlook for the sector, while the CPA told the FT that it feared “that policymakers do not fully understand or appreciate the gravity of this policy position”.

‘Missed opportunity’

Eurosceptic MPs have said that the decision to extend the use of the CE mark in the UK effectively keeps the country aligned with EU standards.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the Telegraph that this meant the UK was missing out on the opportunity to diverge from the bloc and establish the UK’s own regulatory approach.

“I’m very disappointed that we haven’t already done this and now we have to go through this sudden about-turn,” he said.

“It would have made a huge difference if we’d got our deregulation process in play, instead of which what’s happened is in a panic we’ve just gone for the easier option which is to allow the CE mark to carry on.”