BSI Confirms Full Membership of CEN and CENELEC Post-Brexit


30 November 2018

bsiThe British Standards Institution (BSI) has announcedi that the General Assemblies of CEN and CENELEC have, respectively, approved its ongoing membership of the two organisations once Brexit occurs.

BSI is a full member of the European Standards Organisations CEN and CENELEC in its capacity as the UK National Standards Body. However, post-Brexit continued full membership of the two organisations had come into question, particularly should Brexit entail the UK leaving the European Single Market. This is because the European Standardization System in which CEN and CENELEC operate as two of the three European Standards Organisations is predicated on supporting the European Single Market, with national participation in the Single Market usually a factor for a National Standards Body being a full – as opposed to affiliate – member of a European Standards Organisation.ii

The announcement from BSI is that CEN and CENELEC have:
…supported proposals to facilitate BSI’s continuation as a full member and recognised that although there is an important link between their work and European and national regulation, pan-European technical cooperation in the development and maintenance of standards is primarily a market-led activity. The General Assemblies agreed a transition period for their statutes until the end of 2020, including a derogation for BSI from certain eligibility clauses, during which time BSI will undergo an independent review of its processes and both CEN and CENELEC will agree any necessary revisions to their statuses.

This is an interesting development given that, politically, Brexit has yet to be settled and it remains in flux as to whether the UK Government’s negotiated deal is adopted, another deal emerges, there is no deal, or even that there is no Brexit. What is not specifically commented upon by BSI is the involvement of BSI-nominated experts in the drafting of standards in CEN/CENELEC under a European Commission mandate to prepare harmonised standards. It is possible to infer from the above announcement that business as usual will continue, meaning UK involvement in the preparation and revision of harmonised standards will be maintained. Hence, if you are a UK expert that had previously supported the drafting or revision of, say, a LVD, EMC or ecodesign harmonised standard in a CENELEC technical committee, working group or the like, you might expect that participation in this work is still open to you. However, we really need to wait to see how the politics are settled. It is not beyond reason to envisage a situation where the European Commission, in mandating CEN/CENELEC to draw up harmonised standards, requests that UK experts are not involved – particularly if a future Brexit happens to be hard and, perhaps more to the point, acrimonious.

i See: https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/about-bsi/uk-national-standards-body/standards-policy-on-the-uk-leaving-the-eu/
ii Although this is not the case with membership of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the other European Standards Organisation

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Written by Dr Alex Martin

Dr Alex Martin, Senior Regulatory Consultant, RINA Alex is a technical professional with over 10 years’ experience working on product regulation, standards and policy issues in the UK and internationally. The focus of this work has been largely environmental, covering the likes of batteries, biocidal products, ecodesign, energy labeling, packaging, REACH, RoHS, timber sustainability and WEEE. Alex is also knowledgeable on a range of EU and UK product safety and consumer protection legislation (e.g. GPSD, LVD, PPE, toy safety, textile and footwear materials, product liability and guarantees) and quality, environmental and social compliance management standards.