The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has provided guidance on chemical processes for UK businesses during the Brexit implementation period and a brief insight into what to expect further down the line. The statement reiterates that the UK retains a strong commitment to effective and safe chemical management while also detailing its preparations for every possible scenario once a Withdrawal Agreement has been reached with the EU.
What is the implementation period?
The implementation period is to be put in place to facilitate the UK’s gradual exit from the EU and forms part of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU which is set to be finalised in October 2018. The implementation period itself is set to begin on 29th March 2019 and end on 31st December 2020 during which the UK will no longer be a member of the EU but will retain market access until the end of 2020.
Chemical management processes during the implementation process
The bulletin outlines the proposed chemical processes that will apply during the 20 months preceding the UK officially leaving the EU. The chemical processes during the implementation period include:
- Registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications in place before March 2019 will remain valid during the implementation period.
- REACH regulations will continue to apply.
- The process for registering new chemicals under REACH will remain the same.
- The UK will recognise all new registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications granted by the EU.
- It is expected that the HSE will no longer be recognised as a ‘leading authority’ meaning it will be unable to conduct certain assessments under Plant Protection Products, Biocides and REACH regulations.
- However, UK-based businesses will retain the same rights as EU-based businesses to have their cases accepted and processed by ‘leading authorities’ based in EU countries.
- Also, the HSE will continue to process product applications under the Biocidal and Plant Protection Products Regulation for the UK market under the national authorisation route.
So, in summary, this means there are no major changes to the current processes and UK businesses will still be allowed the resources required to continue to use and register chemicals and operate effectively.
What the final arrangements for UK-based businesses will be remains unclear however and there is unlikely to be a clearer picture until the Withdrawal Agreement is finalised in October 2018. The UK Government is also currently working with the EU to produce a framework for our future relationship with the political union.
In the meantime, the UK is preparing for all eventualities, including where no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. These preparations will include ensuring an effective regulatory framework is in place for any scenario and the building of a UK chemicals IT system to support chemical registrations for the domestic market.
Please note, the update does not constitute legal advice and companies should seek independent legal advice dependent on their specific circumstances.