Brexit’s effect on electrical appliances

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By Dale Eaton

Did you know that Brexit could affect your ability to wash clothes, hoover up a mess and even charge your phone? Even more, a post-Brexit Britain could become a magnet for substandard and counterfeit electrical products. This is a real risk as Brexit uncertainty continues.

Brexit continues to drag on as its deadline has been extended to January 31. With this, it brings continued uncertainty as to how Brexit will affect day to day life.

When considering this impact many, if not most people don’t consider its impact on household appliances and their manufacturers.

Due to the complicated nature of Brexit, there are many EU laws and regulations that the UK government will have to decide to keep or abolish if and when Brexit finally comes to fruition.  These changes will see impacts on the appliances that fill our homes.

The charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) have real fears that a post-Brexit Britain could become a hotbed for faulty and unsafe electrical products.  ESF stated: “It is essential that current EU legislation surrounding safety standards on electrical goods as well as consumer protection rights are continued to be mirrored into UK law to ensure all electrical items are safe so that consumers are protected from the risk of substandard or counterfeit products.”

ESF warned of the health and safety risks: “Substandard and counterfeit electrical products pose a much greater risk to life compared to items such as fake clothing and carry with them the risk of electrocution and fire.”

According to the European Commission, customs authorities across the EU seized an estimated five million more counterfeit items in 2015 than the previous year – a 15% increase on the number of intercepted goods compared to 2014.

Emma Drackford, Director of Communications at Electrical Safety First commented: “No outcome from the on-going EU-UK negotiations should be to the detriment of safety standards or consumer protection rights.

The risks posed by substandard and counterfeit electrical products are a very real threat to consumer’s safety and one the Charity continues to highlight.”

The fears held by Electrical Saftey First could become a reality if there is a lapse in the safety standards of electrical goods. This lapse could come in the form of the CE marking system.

The mark CE appears on many products that are traded on the single market in the European Economic Area. According to the UK Government, the CE mark is required for products to “show that the manufacturer has checked that these products meet EU safety, health or environmental requirements. It is an indicator of a product’s compliance with EU legislation” and it “allows the free movement of products within the European market.” By placing the CE mark on a product, the manufacturer is stating their conformity to all of the legal requirements to achieve CE marking.

This system in the UK could come into disarray in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.  In September the UK parliament released a report which stated that: “In a ‘no-deal’ scenario, the EU has said it will stop recognising the competency of UK-based notified bodies to assess products for the EU market. In effect, manufacturers who continue to use UK-based notified bodies will no longer be able to apply the CE mark.”

However, the Government has a plan to combat this. The report stated: “The government intends to reclassify UK notified bodies as UK Approved Bodies. These bodies will be eligible to assess products against relevant UK requirements and issue the new ‘UKCA’ mark to compliant products.” Despite this get around, all UK products that are being exported to the EU will still require CE marking to comply with relevant EU regulatory requirements. Meaning that products required to be assessed for CE marking will need to be assessed by a notified body outside of the UK.

If you’re looking for more information about the safety of your electrical goods you can contact Electrical Saftey First via email at enquiries@electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk.  Their helpline is currently unavailable. 

 

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