11 April 2017 by Ian Moore, CEO

Our CEO Ian Moore is constantly being asked if he knows what is happening when we leave European Union with reference to the BS and EN standards etc. As much as there has been a “don’t worry – it will be business as usual” message from BSI, there is still concern to what degree it will be “business as usual”, the same as where we land between the phrases “hard BREXIT” and “soft BREXIT”.

Well finally there has been a bit more “meat on the bone” in the explanation from BSI although it is still hopes and aspirations. Here is the message…

Following the result of the UK referendum, BSI as the UK National Standards Body has been working with our stakeholders to communicate the key messages about the vital role of standards in supporting trade, growth and productivity. The triggering of Article 50 on 29 March 2017 marked the start of a period during which the UK government will be negotiating the arrangements for its withdrawal from the EU and its future terms of trade with Europe and the rest of the world.  Below is an explanation of how this affects the different roles of the National Standards Body:

National level
BSI will continue to develop and publish British Standards. No changes are anticipated to our activity in this area.

European level
BSI maintains the UK membership of the three European standardization organizations: CEN, CENELEC and ETSI.  Our membership of these organizations continues as normal; it is ‘business as usual’ in all aspects of our standards making and publishing activity.

CEN and CENELEC are private organizations outside the EU coordinating the work of 34 countries in the making and the dissemination of European Standards (EN). Membership of CEN and CENELEC is linked to the adoption of European Standards and the withdrawal of conflicting national standards, facilitating market access across the member countries.

During the past months we have been working with UK government (e.g. the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for International Trade) and other parties as appropriate, in particular CEN, CENELEC and their members, regarding our role in the development of European standards. This work will continue during the negotiation period that now follows the triggering of Article 50.

It is BSI’s ambition, and also its confident expectation, on behalf of UK stakeholders, for the UK to continue to participate in the European standards system as a full member of CEN and CENELEC post-Brexit.  Given the private status of these bodies, and thus their independence from the political authorities, BSI’s ambition is not affected by the Prime Minister’s announcement on 17 January 2017 that the Brexit process will include the UK leaving the Single Market.   

Remaining as a full member would bring maximum benefit to the UK economy and society in its new status outside the EU because reciprocity of market access with European countries and the maintenance of a unified domestic market structure across the UK facilitate trade and reduce complexity for SMEs and consumers, ultimately saving time, money and effort whilst ensuring product quality and safety. BSI also produced a document prior to the referendum which, though outdated now in part, contains some background information of continuing interest. 

International level
Our membership of the two international standardization organizations, ISO and IEC, will be unaffected by a UK exit from the EU.  BSI is committed to representing the UK’s interests in the creation of international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.