Currently, the CPR lays down “harmonised standards” for marketing construction products in the EU. These standards are developed by European “standardisation bodies” and assess the performance of a construction product. Products under the harmonised standards must have a declaration of performance and be marked with a “CE mark”. The CPR aims to remove technical barriers to trade of construction products in the EU and makes information readily available and comparable to professionals, public authorities and consumers.
Is the position changing?
Once the UK departs from the EU, the CPR will be transposed into UK law via the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to ensure continuity in the law. In addition, in December 2018, the UK Government published a statutory instrument (and press release) detailing its proposed changes to the CPR regime which ensure that continuity, for now, of the regulations in the event of a no deal scenario.
When will the changes take effect?
If there is no deal, the changes below will apply from when the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, which at the moment is intended to be 29 March 2019. If there is a deal, it will depend on the transitional arrangements.
What are the Government’s proposed changes?
The Government’s intention is to keep the same product requirements. However, in order to enable the system to continue to function effectively for the UK, the Government has proposed a number of amendments to the CPR regime including:
- maintaining the requirement on manufacturers to declare the performance of their construction product when they want to place products on the UK market;
- existing European “harmonised standards” becoming UK “designated standards” so that immediately following the UK’s exit, UK and EU product standards are identical;
- after an initial period, the Secretary of State being able to designate new UK standards by issuing a mandate to a UK standardisation body to develop a standard or by designating a harmonised standard adopted by a European standardisation body;
- conformity assessment activity under the CPR transitioning from “notified bodies” to UK based “approved bodies”, which will initially be those existing CPR notified UK-based bodies but new bodies may then be authorised by the Secretary of State on or after exit day;
- construction products that are assessed by the UK “approved bodies” must be marked with a new “UK mark” to indicate compliance with the UK’s designated standards, similar to how products are currently marked with a “CE mark”; and
- EU approved products with a “CE mark” continuing to be approved for circulation on the UK market without a need for further testing or UK marking.
How will the changes affect the UK construction industry?
If there is a deal, there will not be any changes for now as the transitional period will apply. If there is a no deal scenario, however, for contractors importing and using currently approved products, there is some comfort in knowing that products already on the UK market by 29 March 2019 will remain compliant with UK standards. This means that disruption to the availability of EU approved products in the UK will be prevented, initially at least. Once the new UK standards are designated by the Secretary of State, there may be some concern as to whether EU and UK standards will slowly diverge. However, the Government has announced no intention to do so in its explanatory memorandum to the instrument and the instrument allows the Government to maintain this regularity post-Brexit.
It is possible that all products circulated and used in the UK will need to be affixed with the new “UK mark”, however, the Government has said that it will give sufficient notice in advance of time limited period ending.
For manufacturers and contractors exporting to the EU-27 after the UK has ceased to be a member, there is no reassurance or guarantee that products approved in the UK would be able to be used in the EU – a point of concern to these manufacturers of construction products in the UK. In the absence of a deal, the UK will no longer be approved to export construction products to the EU-27. Instead, an exporter will need to obtain certification directly from an EU-27 approved body.