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How will Brexit affect European standards, regulations and directives?

The referendum vote for the UK to leave the European Union does not itself change the law; the next step is for the UK government to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty.  This will initiate a two-year period for negotiations on the arrangements for separation.  During this period, EU laws will continue to apply, but the UK government will not take part in decision making at the EU level.  The ultimate effect remains to be seen, because the negotiation may preserve some elements of EU law in force, while the UK government will no doubt enact national regulations to replace other EU laws once they no longer apply.  Likely changes are summarised below:

European Standards

The European standards organisation, CEN, is not part of the EU.  BSI is the UK member of CEN and it is obliged, by CEN’s own rules, to publish any new CEN standards once they become available.  BSI is also obliged to withdraw any UK national standards which conflict with CEN standards.  This situation will not change as a result of Brexit; BS EN standards will continue in force and BSI will continue to send delegates to CEN meetings to discuss and vote on new and revised EN standards.

EU Regulations and Directives

These are legally enforceable in the UK, either directly (such as the Construction Products Regulation) or by being transposed into UK law (such as the Machinery Directive, which is transposed as the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008).  The most relevant to DHF are concerned with the single market and CE marking (such as the above examples) or concerned with safety at work (such as the Workplace Regulations or PUWER).  What happens to these depends on the negotiations which should take place in the two year “notice period” mentioned above. 

Some non-EU members are part of the single market and apply the CE marking legislation in full; if this applied to the UK, the single market regulations and directives would continue in force as now.  This approach would almost certainly depend upon UK accepting other elements of the single market, including free movement of EU citizens.  If the UK is outside the single market, then the obligation for UK manufacturers to apply the CE mark would eventually cease, except where products were being exported to the EU single market.

If CE marking requirements cease to exist within the UK, then it is likely that some or all of the specific product safety requirements would have to be included in new national legislation.

As noted above, the true picture will only emerge as the negotiations proceed; members will be kept informed of developments.


  • All CEN standards remain in force and work on them will continue in the normal way, unaffected by the departure of UK from the EU.
  • EU directives and regulations will not change for at least two years.
  • DHF members will be kept informed at all times.

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