New Brexit opportunities and government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has sown doubt over the future of independent testing for UKCA mark.
The Times reports, from an extended interview: “Rees-Mogg revealed that the government did not intend to require firms to submit products for new British safety tests if they have been recognised by the European Union CE mark.”
It is unclear at this stage whether this is government policy – Rees-Mogg, a Cabinet Office minister, is pronouncing on something that is BEIS responsibility. EAMA has asked for clarity over the independent testing regime. (There is no suggestion that UKCA marking itself will be dropped.)
However, the comment highlights confusions over UKCA marking. The failure of the UK to agree a mutual recognition agreement for conformity testing with the EU appears to have come as a surprise to the government, and at any rate has created serious problems where a product has to be independently tested in the UK. In some sectors, the capacity or capability did not exist and this was an important reason for the government’s decision last autumn to extend the UKCA deadline to end-2022, despite repeatedly saying there would be no extension from end-2021. There may be fears that necessary UK testing capacity will still not be in place this year.
The approach is likely to be applicable to other trade agreements, in Rees-Mogg-‘s view, for example with the United States, although that is not stated in the article.
The Times does state that Rees-Mogg argued that the UK should be prepared to accept other countries’ standards rather than trying to impose conditions of its own. In the same interview, he argued against universal employment protection laws, saying that not all workers needed the same level of protection; and that he wanted to cut the civil service by 65,000.
The article appeared on Saturday 19th February: Paywall: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/jacob-rees-mogg-do-so-many-civil-servants-make-british-lives-better-probably-not-dw57mk2k5