by Dr. Eleanor Grimes
On October 23rd two regulatory specialists from UL attended the Brexit Chemicals Stakeholder Event held by DEFRA and the HSE. The day covered the extensive plans the various government bodies have put into place to make sure that any transition out of the EU is as smooth as possible to the continuation of trade within the chemical sector.
Currently in the UK there are two main options moving forwards with regards to Brexit occurring. The first is that a deal is reached, and this gives the government time to enter into negotiations with the EU to discuss the trade agreements moving forward. This would include how tightly aligned the UK would remain with the current EU chemicals policies. It is worth noting that currently the end date for any negotiations once a deal has been reached is still 31st December 2020, as this has not been extended in conjunction with the deal/no-deal deadlines. The other option is that the UK leaves with no-deal in place. If this does occur, secondary UK legislation has already been filed that will implement all current EU chemical legislation into UK law, with the only amendments being those required to make the legislation work for a single market. Any further divergence from EU legislation will have to be negotiated after Brexit proceedings.
Therefore regardless of if or how the UK leaves the EU, for the initial foreseeable future all current EU legislation, including poison centres, will still apply in the UK.
The event itself focused predominantly on the CLP and REACH regulations, with the HSE demonstrating many of the options put into place in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This included a series of online tools, to assist with tasks such as notifications and registrations.
However, these are currently meeting a bare minimum requirement and are not as sophisticated as their EU counter parts. There are plans to develop these further if required.
CLP and Brexit
With regards to CLP the main areas that will undergo initial changes in the event of a no-deal Brexit are the harmonised chemical classifications, the classification and labeling notification system and the application for use of generic chemical names. The current Annex VI list will be implemented as it stands on the day of a no-deal Brexit into UK law, but from that day forward will be maintained separately from the EU based list. If acceptable, future updates to the EU list will be reflected in the UK list, although there may be a timing difference and the UK may also choose to make its own amendments to the new list from this point onwards. For the notifications and requests for use of a generic name, in the instance of a no-deal this will have to be done separately in the UK compared to the EU and via the new UK IT systems that are to be put into place.
REACH and Brexit
The implementation of REACH however will be more difficult as overnight the roles of some companies may change in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Whilst the UK has put legislation into place to automatically acknowledge any registrations/authorisations already in force from EU entities, the EU has not put into place any legislation that will allow any registrations currently held by a UK entity to remain in force in the EU after this date. It has therefore been recommended that any company in this position moves the registration to a remaining EU entity or only representative BEFORE Brexit happens.
For UK companies that are part of existing registrations, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, these will automatically enter into UK law and just have to be validated free of charge within 120 days of Brexit. However, if a UK company is importing from Europe and currently taking advantage of being a downstream user of an existing REACH registration, then they will either need to ask the REACH registrant to validate the registration within the UK, or they will have to complete a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) within 180 days of leaving the EU. This notification will be costed, but it will delay the requirement of completing a UK REACH registration for 2 years. Any new registrations after a no-deal Brexit will have to be undertaken in both the UK and the EU separately.
Please note it was made clear from all Governmental officials that whilst most of the information provided covered actions required under a no-deal situation, this was purely because it will place the greatest burden on industry and not due to any political inclination or insider knowledge.
It is recommended that moving forward companies prepare as best they can and put in place any necessary measures, whilst monitoring the ever changing political climate in both the UK and the EU.
For further information the HSE is providing an up to date source of information. https://www.gov.uk/brexit
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