Keep UK-EU standards lined up in trade deal, urges SBS

Non-profit organisation Small Business Standards, an organisation representing EU SMEs has urged Brexit negotiators to retain lined up standards and conformity on goods as part of any future trade deal.

With Brexit negotiations looking increasingly fraught on the back of the UK Government seeking to undo prior agreements, concerns exist that other agreements that assist businesses in creating harmony may eventually undo.

Publishing a position paper, Small Business Standards writes “procedures play an essential role in trade. They can facilitate market access by reducing trade barriers and transaction costs, or in the case of diverging standards and conformity assessment procedures, create technical obstacles and impose additional testing and certification. Standardisation and conformity assessment are thus key elements that need to be carefully addressed in the future UK-EU relationship.”

The organisation illustrates that, as it stands, 95% of British Standards are identical to those delivered in Europe and often further afield. Should the UK depart from standardisation and create its own then costs could quickly mount for both manufacturers and other SMEs on both sides.

Standards play an important role in enabling SMEs to keep compatibility in line, have confidence in testing and quality delivered as part of trade.

According to the position paper published by SBS, future cooperation on standardisation between the UK and the EU should be based on the key principles of European legislation including the transparency of processes, facilitation of stakeholder participation, access to information and draft standards. The UK should also keep its commitment to the single standard model whereby one single standard is in use across the EU and the UK on any given issue.

The mutual acceptance of test results and certificates is also important for SMEs for which paying twice for the same test can be prohibitive. Mutual recognition should be based on accreditation and relevant international standards. The position paper also highlights the need to keep a level playing field to prevent the creation of backdoors to import goods from third countries into the EU.

To view the position paper and its recommendations for the basis of any future trade deal head here. For the bicycle industry’s own warning on the ramifications of a No Deal Brexit, catch the BA’s technical lead’s interview here.