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Notice to Stakeholders Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU Rules in the Field of Industrial Products

The United Kingdom submitted on 29 March 2017 the notification of its intention to withdraw from the Union pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This means that, unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another date, all Union primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019, 00:00h (CET) ('the withdrawal date'). The United Kingdom will then become a 'third country'.

Preparing for the withdrawal is not just a matter for EU and national authorities but also for private parties. In view of the considerable uncertainties, in particular concerning the content of a possible withdrawal agreement, all interested parties, and especially economic operators, are reminded of legal repercussions, which need to be considered when the United Kingdom becomes a third country.

Subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement, as of the withdrawal date, the EU rules in the field of non-food and non-agricultural products, whether for use by consumers or professionals (hereinafter referred to as "Union product legislation"), no longer apply to the United Kingdom. This has, in particular, the consequences presented below for products placed on the EU-27 market.

1. Consequences for the Identification of Economic Operators

According to Union product legislation, the importer is the economic operator established in the Union who places a product from a third country on the Union market. As from the withdrawal date, a manufacturer or importer established in the United Kingdom will no longer be considered as an economic operator established in the Union. As a consequence, an economic operator established in the EU-27 who, prior to the withdrawal date, was considered as an EU distributor will become an importer for the purposes of Union product legislation in relation to products from a third country that this economic operator places on the EU-27 market as from the withdrawal date. This operator will have to comply with the specific obligations relevant to an importer, which are different from those of a distributor.

Currently, Union product legislation does not generally oblige the manufacturer to designate an authorised representative. However, if the manufacturer chooses to do so, the applicable legislation requires the authorised representative to be established in the Union. In addition, specific Union legislation does provide for the obligation to have an authorised representative. Authorised representatives or responsible persons established in the United Kingdom will not, as from the withdrawal date, be recognised as authorised representatives or responsible persons for the purposes of the applicable Union product legislation. Therefore, manufacturers are advised to take the necessary steps to ensure that, as from the withdrawal date, their designated authorised representatives or responsible persons are established in the EU-27.

2. Consequences for the Identification of Economic Operators

In some product areas, Union legislation requires the intervention of a qualified third party, known as Notified Body, in the conformity assessment procedure. Union product legislation requires Notified Bodies to be established in a Member State and be designated by a Member State notifying authority for performing the conformity assessment tasks set out in the relevant act of Union product legislation. Therefore, as from the withdrawal date, UK Notified Bodies will lose their status as EU Notified Bodies and will be removed from the Commission's information system on notified organisations (NANDO database). As such, UK bodies will not be in a position to perform conformity assessment tasks pursuant to Union product legislation as from the withdrawal date.

When the applicable conformity assessment procedure requires or provides for the possibility of third party intervention, a certificate delivered by a body recognised as an EU Notified Body at the time of the placing of that product on the market will be required for products placed on the market as from the withdrawal date.

Economic operators are advised to take the necessary steps to ensure that, where the applicable conformity assessment procedures require the intervention of a Notified Body, they will hold certificates issued by an EU-27 Notified Body to demonstrate compliance for their products placed on the market as from the withdrawal date.

Where economic operators hold certificates issued by a UK Notified Body prior to the withdrawal date and plan to continue placing the product concerned on the EU-27 market as from the withdrawal date, they are advised to consider either applying for a new certificate issued by an EU-27 Notified Body or arranging for a transfer.