‘You can stay after Brexit,’ European Standards agencies tell UK

BSI
Dr Scott Steedman

The General Assemblies of CEN and CENELEC – the European Standards Organisations – have agreed an arrangement that secures BSI’s full membership post-Brexit.

This arrangement confirms that the UK can continue to enjoy and influence the content of voluntary standards that support trade across 34 European member countries.

The decisions, taken separately in both organisations, will enable UK industry and other stakeholders to continue their important work shaping and maintaining best practice standards used across Europe and internationally. They also mean that UK experts will continue as chairs, convenors, committee members and policy experts to work on maintaining and developing the 20,000 European standards that are managed by CEN and CENELEC.

Both organisations have committed to a transition period for their statutes from the date of Brexit through to the end of 2020, including a derogation for BSI from certain eligibility clauses, during which time BSI will undergo an independent review of its processes and both CEN and CENELEC will agree any necessary revisions to their statutes. This not only secures BSI’s membership from challenge after Brexit, but also the stability of the European standards system during the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, even in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

Dr Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at BSI, said: “We are delighted to have confirmed our continued membership of the European Standards Organisations in the wake of Brexit.

“This provides stability to British businesses and consumers alike by guaranteeing our participation in the development of European standards, as well as maintaining the level of UK influence over the content of those standards. European standards make up over 50 per cent of our national catalogue of standards, and are crucial to the growth and prosperity of Britain.

“We have been a leading nation in the development of standards for over a century, working closely with other countries to deliver better business practices and safer products to consumers. With the help of our fellow members of CEN and CENELEC we are continuing for the next century as well.”

This announcement follows UK Government support, pledged earlier this year. In June, Greg Clark – the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – backed moves to assure the UK’s place as a full member of European Standards Organizations, a move that was then supported in the Government’s Brexit White Paper.

Over the past 30 years, the identical adoption of European standards by all members of CEN and CENELEC and the withdrawal of conflicting national standards has reduced the number of national standards across Europe from an estimated 160,000 to around 20,000 European standards today.

BSI is a member of the IEC, ISO, CEN and CENELEC, ensuring UK expert involvement at all stages of the standards development process. Consensus positions from British stakeholders are fed into the European and international committees, allowing reciprocal market access that underpins 28.4% of annual UK GDP growth.