BEIS has published the draft UK Regulations that will act as the UK transposition for bringing the Radio Equipment Directive (RE-D) into UK law and this is accompanied by a consultation that techUK plans to respond to.
The RE-D updates the rules setting out how tech devices speak to each other wirelessly and replaces the RTTE Directive passed in 1999. The new law is vital to ensure wirless enabled devices do not interfere with other devices' spectrum and frequencies, especially given the RTTE did not account for developments like mobile broadband and WiFi, let alone 5G, connected or autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things.
However as noble and sensible as the aims of RE-D are implementation has been a major source of frustration. The required harmonised standards have been held up by EU red tape resulting in manufacturers and compliance testers not knowing what rules to follow for their products and Member States devising their own implementation plans. Having slightly varied rules to follow in each Member State is very problematic for manufacturers and it undermines the robustness of CE marking as a Single Market function.
The draft UK Regulations confirm the UK Government position that a Notified Body can certify a product when a standard isn’t listed in the OJEU and this is likely to form part of our response (especially as Notified Bodies are expensive, something acknowledged in the official BEIS Impact Assessment). It is fair to say that techUK and Digital Europe members do not share BEIS' confidence (again outlined in the Impact Assessment) that a Notified Body procedure is the most efficient way, a view that has been shared with BEIS and the European Commission numerous times in the last year.
The proposals also give the UK market surveillance authority (in this case Trading Standards) the legal authority to enforce this Directive. The transposition delay upto now has created a situation where there is a gap between UK and EU law with no basis for enforcement in the UK. Trading Standards have previously stated they understand the specific issues with RE-D and will prioritise a risk based enforcement methodology, so most manufacturers will still be able to engage with them sympathetically before getting an intervention.
The consultation on the draft regulations runs until 14 August and techUK will be responding. If you would like to contribute to the techUK response please email craig.melson@techUK.org.