The Prime Minister says that she is 95% of the way towards securing a workable deal. Recent guidance released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) outlines arrangements in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit almost seems unnecessary. However, March 2019 is still several months away and, as someone once said, a week is a long time in politics. The guidance produced by DEFRA aims itself at businesses who produce, register, import or export chemicals.
Whilst the guidance may not affect BALI members directly, it is worth at least being aware of the guidance.
Currently, the UK chemicals industry has regulation through a framework (European Chemicals Agency). Most of these are EU legislation based. The main piece of legislation is REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). This requires EU companies to register chemicals with ECHA before they may go on the market. Similarly, companies outside of the EU must comply with REACH.
Predictably, in the event of a no deal, a UK regulatory framework will replace the functions once carried out by ECHA on behalf of the UK. This intends to minimise disruption to chemical supply. All the whilst maintaining standards intended to protect health and the environment. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) would adopt this position as UK regulatory authority with the new framework using expertise from the HSE, Environment Agency and other regulators to provide appropriate regulation.
Continued access for UK importers of chemicals from Europe who would otherwise experience affect from the restrictions will be guaranteed by carrying across existing reach registrations. Importers simply need to validate existing registrations with the HSE prior to March 2019. However, a no deal poses issues for UK-based companies wishing to maintain access to European Economic Markets and it is here that guidance issued – both from DEFRA and the European Chemicals Agency – is rather vague.