The familiar Kitemark is the original British Standards mark first used in 1903 on tramway rails. Today it can be seen on many products from locks to motorcycle helmets.
As well as the Kitemark the British Standards Institute (BSI) manage over 30,000 current standards for things. Standards aren’t the same thing as regulation: technically they are voluntary whereas regulation is mandatory. However standards are a good way to demonstrate compliance with legislation and can become pre-requisites for market access - for instance a retailer may require suppliers to adopt HACCP in respect of potato packing, or legislation may stipulate the use of a conforming product for instance eartags
In Europe approximately a quarter of standards are developed in response to a request from the EU and are ‘harmonised’, i.e. a single standard is adopted across the EU and if suppliers comply with the requirements of the standard in any country, the product will be acceptable across the EU. Whilst not compulsory, the use of a harmonised standard is a good way for manufacturers or suppliers to demonstrate compliance.
A product with a CE mark has been produced in compliance with all relevant EU legislation around areas such as product safety, environmental impact and consumer protection. After brexit the UK will replace the CE marking regime with a new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA). This new marking will not be recognised on the EU market however and manufacturers will need to apply to a EU-based body to continue to use the CE mark.
Standards may be:
- National – the British Standards Institute (BSI) is appointed by government to develop and publish British Standards.
- European – the European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs) are responsible for all standards relating to the Single Market. These are designed ‘EN’. The BSI is a member of the ESOs and participates in the development of European standards however after brexit the BSI will need to leave these organisations and a transition is underway.
- International – ISO and IEC. The BSI is a member of these organisations and this will not change after brexit.
For more information about how standards will change after brexit please go to the gov.uk website here.
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