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Aise, UKCPI urge EU Brexit negotiator to avoid regulatory divergence

Trade associations representing the cleaning products sector have written to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier to call for any Brexit outcome that creates regulatory divergence between the trade bloc and the UK to be avoided.

In a letter dated 30 March, international soap and detergents trade body Aise and the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association (UKCPI) say any changes that lead to a different regulatory framework between Britain and the EU will “add complexity in monitoring and implementing new regulations”.

Regulatory divergence, or the UK’s inability to access regulatory resources from the appropriate EU agencies, “will delay the harmonised implementation of measures that aim to protect consumers’ safety and the environment”, they say.

In addition, they call for negotiators to avoid any agreement that requires duplication of regulations, including REACH and the detergents Regulation.

They add that any duplication of costs associated with testing, letters of access and administration would create an “unnecessary burden on manufacturers”.

They call for an outcome whereby:

  • EU27 and UK manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene products continue to have access to each other’s markets at no additional cost or burden;
  • there is recognition of existing registrations and authorisations, including re-import of already approved products or ingredients, as well as certainty over the future status of UK manufactured substances and products; and
  • that continuity of access is guaranteed for UK officials to EU agencies such as Echa, for example through associate membership.

The trade bodies are also calling for a long-term solution that safeguards companies’ licenses to operate, provides business certainty for the future and enables unimpeded trade flows between both parties.

They say the supply and value chains for detergents are “highly complex” and involve cross border exchanges and the free movement of ingredients, raw materials, packaging and final products produced at a price acceptable to consumers across the EU.

They are urging both parties to avoid setting tariff barriers and customs hurdles “as this could negatively impact export volumes between the UK and the rest of the EU” – and thereby impact competitiveness and growth. It is important, they add, to ensure that businesses and public services have the right customs capacities in place.

Mr Barnier and his UK counterpart David Davis recently signed a conditional agreement between Britain and the EU on the Brexit transition period. Dependent on both sides agreeing a final withdrawal treaty, it sets the transitional period from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020.

In their letter, Aise and UKCPI welcome the agreement, but call for clarity on what will happen beyond that date on the issues highlighted.

And, they say questions remain around a “pragmatic and workable” solution to ensure existing goods lawfully placed on the market and held in stocks in the UK and EU27 before 31 December 2020 can still be sold by distributors until used up.

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