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The UK has negotiated another withdrawal agreement with the EU in principle, which is subject to ratification by the UK parliament. However, the future relationship with the EU will now likely depend on the outcome of the general election.
If the withdrawal agreement is signed by the UK and the EU, detailed arrangements for the future relationship can be fully negotiated, which will affect all areas of UK business. The negotiations are critical to the chemical industry, particularly with regard to regulatory processes.
If The Withdrawal Agreement Is Signed
In a negotiated departure, there will be a transition period, known as the implementation period, before full separation comes into force. During this time, EU legislation will continue to apply to the UK. This means that UK businesses can continue to trade with the EU, and goods placed on the EU/UK markets before the end of the implementation period can carry on through supply chains, under the rules that were in force at the start of the movement. Under a common rulebook, the UK would commit to ongoing harmonisation with those EU rules “necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border” during this period. This transition period is currently foreseen to last until 31st December 2020, but potentially could be extended if negotiations on a future trading agreement are still ongoing at the end of this period.
The political declaration, that accompanies the withdrawal agreement, indicates that the UK and the EU would like to explore possibilities for regulatory alignment as part of their future trade agreement to come into effect after the end of the transition period, including co-operation with EU agencies such as ECHA. The current UK Government intended to seek agreement on associate membership of ECHA to ensure that REACH registrations undertaken by UK companies remain valid in the EU and UK markets, post Brexit. Furthermore, the UK would seek agreement for future EU-REACH registrations to be undertaken by UK companies, the proposed options for which are as follows:
Conversely, EU REACH registrations obtained by EU/EEA entities, would be accepted by UK authorities for the purposes of supply to the UK market.
At the current time, the EU position is that only EEA-based companies can REACH register a substance (deal or no deal). As a third country, UK companies will be unable to register substances directly and will lose registrations already completed. UK suppliers to the EU market will have to appoint an OR, or rely on the importer to conduct registration, where required. An alternative option is to move operations to the EU, or transfer registrations to an EU based OR. In the case of substances already registered, this must be completed before the withdrawal date and notified to ECHA.
Conversely, UK importers of substances, mixtures and certain articles from the EEA will lose downstream user status, unless an EEA supplier is willing to engage the services of a UK-based OR. Without this, importers will be burdened with UK-REACH registration duties, according to reciprocal regulation already enacted in the UK to facilitate Brexit. UK-REACH registration will be costly, time consuming and may become the responsibility of organisations inexperienced in REACH regulatory processes. It is estimated that UK companies have already spent around £250 million on REACH registration.
UK REACH Following No Deal (or a deal that does not include REACH)
In order to ensure existing levels of protection for workers, consumer and the environment are maintained, the UK government has put in place legislation to replace EU chemicals regulations. This includes legislation to replace REACH, CLP, BPR and PIC.
The UK-REACH legislation provides transitional arrangements for UK Importers, by allowing an interim notification (rather than immediate registration) of chemicals imported from the EEA, or Third Countries covered by a registration made by an EEA based OR. This interim notification will need to be made within 180 days of the date that the UK leaves the EU/end of the transition period, followed by the full registration within 2 years of the date that the UK leaves the EU/end of the transition period.
Existing REACH registrations completed by UK entities will be grandfathered into the new UK REACH system. Registrants will need to take timely action by opening a UK REACH-IT account and providing information on the existing EU registration within 120 days of the UK leaving the EU/end of the transition period. The technical information for the tonnage band registered must be provided within 2 years of the date that the UK leaves the EU/end of the transition period.
Grandfathering will apply to all registrations (including intermediates) held by UK-based entities, including importers and UK-based ORs, and to sole, lead or joint registrants at the time of exit. It also applies to all registrations held by UK companies at any point since 29 March 2017, which is important as registrations transferred to an EU/EEA based entity will be carried over into the UK system.
Grandfathering will not apply to registrations held by organisations established outside of the UK, regardless of whether they are part of a group of companies with a UK presence. In this instance, only registrations that have been transferred to a UK-based entity before the UK leaves the EU will be grandfathered into the system.
A number of scenarios are explored in UK Guidance covering a no Brexit deal:
Regardless of whether a deal on Brexit is achieved between the UK and the EU-27, there is no certainty on how the REACH relationship will work. Switzerland recognises REACH, but Swiss companies selling chemical products to the EU market must register substances through an OR based in the EU. The EEA Countries Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland have full membership of ECHA, but no voting rights.
CHCS will keep members informed and is ready to deliver training, depending on the outcome of Brexit.
See www.gov.uk/brexit for more information and guidance covering other important exit scenario topics.
CHCS offers Modular Training Courses on the writing of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), and related issues such as classification, labelling and other documentation.
For more information see CHCS Training.
If you have any queries about our training, please Contact CHCS.
Chemicals Legislation Support From CHCS
We provide a range of pages on this website to give you an introduction to different aspects of chemicals legislation / regulation:
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