techUK welcomes government alignment on acceptance of CE Marking
techUK strongly welcomes the parliamentary statement made by Kevin Hollinrake MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Enterprise and Markets, on 24th January that confirms the government’s intention to continue recognising the ‘conformité européenne’ (CE) product safety marking of the European Union beyond 31 December 2024.
We have been actively engaged with the government for many years about the requirements that companies must meet when placing products on the Great Britain market following the UK’s exit from the European Union. Our position has always been that close regulatory alignment between the GB and EU markets reduces the costs of doing business in and between both markets, which ultimately reduces costs for consumers. In our engagements with the Department for Business & Trade (DBT) and other policymakers, techUK has actively encouraged the government to allow for simpler trade between GB and the EU by allowing companies to use the CE mark in GB.
Whereas the government’s initial position was that companies trading in GB would be required to use the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking beyond a defined cutoff date, this deadline was postponed several times following consultation with industry, who emphasised that mandatory use of UKCA marking would add unnecessary additional costs to placing products on the GB market.
In August 2023 we had a positive announcement from DBT that the 18 sectors under their remit would continue to accept CE marking indefinitely. However, this announcement did not provide certainty to our members that would have enabled them to prepare to place CE-marked products onto the GB market in 2025 and beyond, because virtually every product in the technology sector is also in scope of regulations that fall under other government departments that had not confirmed their alignment with DBT’s progressive position. We have been actively engaging with DBT and the Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) and encouraging them to advocate within government for alignment across departments.
Following Minister Hollinrake’s statement on 24th January, we are delighted to see that key regulations from other departments will be included within legislation to formalise the indefinite acceptance of CE marking in GB, namely the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) and the Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products 2010 Regulations (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero).
This announcement, alongside additional measures that will gives companies greater flexibility around physical labelling and the additional voluntary option of digital labelling / e-labelling (see below), is a really positive step that will make it easier and cheaper to place products on the GB market. We encourage the government to introduce the applicable legislation as soon as possible to provide full legal certainty to companies.
Updated government guidance:
- Using the UKCA marking
- Placing manufactured goods on the market in Great Britain
- UK conformity assessment and documentation
- Roles and responsibilities
Easement of labelling requirements
The government has also announced progressive plans to allow companies to put important regulatory or manufacturing information online rather than requiring them to physically print it on their products.
techUK strongly supports the government’s decision to allow the voluntary use of e-labelling, which has been one of our key recommendations to government as it reviews the UK’s product compliance framework. The introduction of a voluntary e-labelling scheme can be expected to reduce compliance costs, encourage innovation, and reduce the environmental impact printing and packaging without hindering the work of market surveillance authorities.
We are pleased to see that the scope of these allowances has been expanded to include manufacturer and importer details and the declaration of conformity in addition to the product safety mark, as well as the acceptance of QR codes and NFC tags which will enable traders to provide a much richer range of regulatory information that can be more easily updated than physical markings. A vast majority of UK consumers own digital devices such as smartphones, and are familiar with accessing information via QR codes in part due to their widespread use during the Covid-19 pandemic.
These reforms bring the UK into alignment with a number of significant trading partners including the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea, which will have a positive impact on our trading relationships.