With the World Cup, Wimbledon and President Trump’s visit over, Brexit is once again dominating the national headlines. Against this backdrop the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published an update on developments in the chemical regulatory process, including the biocides used in professional pest control, within the EU withdrawal negotiations.
The article on the HSE website emphasises that: “The UK is strongly committed to the effective and safe management of chemicals. That will not change when we leave the EU.” And goes on to explain that: “The UK and EU negotiating teams have reached agreement on the terms of an implementation period. Building on this ... the UK and EU have locked down the text on the majority of other separation issues, including goods on the market. Subject to conclusion and ratification of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the implementation period will start on 30 March 2019 and last until 31 December 2020.
“During the implementation period the UK will no longer be a Member State of the European Union, but market access will continue on current terms. This means that UK-EU trade will be able to continue on the same terms as now up until the end of 2020.”
In practice this means during the implementation period:
- Registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications in place before March 2019 will continue to be valid;
- The process for registering new chemicals will remain the same as it is now;
- The UK will recognise all new registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications granted by the EU;
- The HSE is unlikely to be able to act as a ‘lead authority’ but will work with affected businesses to minimise disruption and delay to their ongoing assessments;
- UK-based businesses will have the same rights as EU-based businesses to have their cases accepted and processed;
- HSE will continue to process product applications under the Biocidal Products Regulation for the UK market. Applications will be considered against the current rules and standards.
The agreement is of course not yet legally binding and remains subject to signature and ratification/conclusion between the parties.
HSE is also planning for the ‘no deal’ scenario. The EU Withdrawal Act will mean that current EU chemicals regulation will be incorporated into UK law and the requirements established through these regulations will continue to apply.
Whilst the UK is exploring the terms on which it could remain part of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) HSE has started work to build a UK chemicals IT system to support the registration of chemicals placed on the UK market. This will guarantee continuity for businesses whatever the outcome of negotiations.