On 23 November 2018 the General Assemblies of the European Standards Organisations CEN and CENELEC approved a plan that secures BSI's full membership post-Brexit. BSI has welcomed these decisions as a pragmatic solution that provides stability for the European standards system while meeting the needs of its stakeholders.
The decisions, taken separately by the two 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, working on developing and maintaining the 20,000 European standards that are managed by CEN and CENELEC.
Furthermore, these decisions are a welcome confirmation of BSI's policy position, which has been in place since the Brexit referendum, that its membership and continued influence in the development and maintenance of European standards should not be affected by Brexit.
BSI's position has enjoyed overwhelming support among UK stakeholders. UK manufacturers, service providers, trade associations, consumer bodies and others have been clear and consistent in their message that they want to continue to work within the European standards system and that BSI's continued membership of CEN and CENELEC is therefore critical. Membership of CEN and CENELEC provides UK influence over market access conditions in 33 other European countries. In addition, CEN and CENELEC members play a vital role in the international standards system through ISO and IEC. Influencing international standards is crucial in ensuring the future global competitiveness of the UK.
The support of government for maintaining the UK's position within the European standards system has been vital to secure this outcome. Government support for BSI's position was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark in June and in the July 2018 Brexit White Paper, and is reflected in the Withdrawal Act and 'no deal' technical notices. The latest version of the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU also stresses alignment on technical barriers to trade issues, including standards.
CEN and CENELEC members supported proposals to facilitate BSI's continuation as a full member and recognised that although there is an important link between their work and European and national regulation, pan-European technical co-operation in the development and maintenance of standards is primarily a market-led activity. The General Assemblies agreed a transition period for their statutes until 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.
The UK, through BSI, will continue to commit to the fundamental membership principles of CEN and CENELEC, meaning that all member countries of CEN and CENELEC have a consistent and coherent catalogue of national standards for industry, consumers and regulators.
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