At 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 2020, the UK left its transition period with the European Union (EU) and ended its membership of the EU’s Single Market. With the completion of this Brexit milestone, the UK no longer has to comply with EU regulations, including the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), although for now at least it seems that the intention is to mirror the EU’s rules with the UK’s own domestic legislation. This change also means an end to CE marking in Great Britain and the introduction of a new UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark. Note: This change does not apply to Northern Ireland, which remains inside the Single Market and so retains CE marking.
Under the new rules, the UKCA mark will need to be applied to most goods placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) that previously required CE marking. This includes most construction products. The UKCA mark alone cannot be used for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market, which require a CE mark or the new UKNI mark. The technical requirements and conformity assessment processes (e.g. audits) are largely the same as they were for CE marking, so manufacturers should not need to amend their manufacturing or testing procedures if their products are currently CE marked. Whereas manufacturers would previously have dealt with ‘Notified Bodies’, they must now deal with ‘Approved Bodies’, but all Notified Bodies automatically became Approved Bodies at the end of the Brexit transition period, so there should be no change from a manufacturer’s point of view. Similarly, the ‘Harmonised Standards’ (hEN) that products were manufactured to and certified against have been replaced by UK ‘Designated Standards’, but for the time being at least these will be identical documents. The government has published, and will maintain, a list of these designated standards on GOV.UK.
For the specific case of construction products, including steel frames and many cladding systems, the CPR has been replaced in the UK by two new pieces of legislation:
• Construction Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
• Construction Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020
The new regulations essentially translate the CPR into UK law, but with changes to reflect Great Britain’s new status outside the EU’s single market (as noted above). From 1 January 2021, all UK notified bodies operating under the EU Construction Products Regulation 2011 (EU Regulation No. 305/2011) and based in the UK were granted new UK ‘approved body’ status and are listed in a new UK database. The designated standard for structural steelwork is EN 1090-1 and there are no changes to any of the other EN standards that frame manufacturers and designers are familiar with.
The UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021, but to allow businesses time to adjust to the new system, manufacturers will still be able to use CE marking until 1 January 2022 in most cases. From 1 January 2022, however, CE marking will not be recognised in Great Britain, and all products placed on the GB market will need to possess the new UKCA mark. If the EU changes its rules for a particular product, manufacturers who CE mark their products on the basis of these new rules will not Important Changes to CE Marking in Great Britain be able to use CE marking to sell in Great Britain, even before 31 December 2021. The UKCA mark is not recognised on the EU market, so products will need a valid CE mark to be sold to the EU. It is important to note that these changes do not apply retrospectively, so CE marks on existing products manufactured before 1 January 2021 remain valid. Similarly, goods placed on the EU market before 1 January 2021 can continue to circulate until they reach their end user provided that they have a valid CE mark.
Further information may be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/construction-products-regulation-in-great-britain
Written by RIDBA Technical Consultant, Dr Martin Heywood.