Purpose

This notice provides guidance on how the importing and exporting non-harmonised goods under the mutual recognition principle would be affected in the unlikely event that the UK exits the EU without a deal in March 2019.

Before 29 March 2019 (postponed to 31 January 2020)

Some manufactured goods are subject to national regulations rather than EU-wide rules. Examples include furniture, textiles, bicycles, and cooking utensils. This is not an exhaustive list.

These non-harmonised goods can circulate on the EU market under the mutual recognition principle. This principle prevents EU countries from prohibiting the sale of goods that have already been legally sold in another EU country. This applies even where countries have different national requirements covering the same good.

As an example, a bicycle made to comply with French national requirements and sold in France can then lawfully be marketed in other EU countries – even though those countries may have different national requirements for bicycles.

The only exceptions to the mutual recognition principle are restrictions which EU countries can introduce on grounds such as public safety, public policy and public morality.

EU countries’ right to restrict the circulation of these goods, for the above reasons, is regulated by the EU Mutual Recognition Regulation (764/2008). As well as setting out rules and procedures, it establishes product contact points in each EU country which respond to requests for information about national regulations.

After March 2019 if there’s no deal

The UK would no longer fall within the scope of the mutual recognition principle.

Implications

UK businesses exporting non-harmonised goods to the EU market will need to consider the national requirements of the first EU country they export to. They will not need to consider the national requirements of any EU countries goods travel through before reaching the EU country in which they are intended to be placed on the market.

UK businesses who have already exported a non-harmonised good to an EU country by meeting the relevant national requirements will still be able to make use of the mutual recognition principle and market their product in other EU countries.

UK businesses who import non-harmonised goods into the UK will need to take action even if their goods were previously lawfully marketed in another EU country.

Non-UK businesses exporting non-harmonised goods to the UK will need to take action even if their goods were previously lawfully marketed in another EU country or in the UK.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

UK businesses exporting non-harmonised goods to the EU market will need to meet the national requirements of the first EU country they export to.

UK businesses who have already exported a non-harmonised good to an EU country by meeting the relevant national requirements will not need to take any specific action.

UK businesses who import non-harmonised goods into the UK will need to ensure they meet UK national requirements.

Non-UK businesses exporting non-harmonised goods to the UK will need to ensure that the goods meet UK national requirements, regardless of whether they were previously lawfully marketed in another EU country or in the UK.

More information

This notice deals with trade in manufactured goods under the mutual recognition principle. Further information will be provided in due course regarding foodstuffs currently covered by the mutual recognition principle.

A list of relevant UK national regulations can be found here. This list not may not exhaustive.

Further information about different national regulations of non-harmonised goods for different EU countries is available via product contact points.

This notice is meant for guidance only. You should consider whether you need separate professional advice before making specific preparations.

It is part of the government’s ongoing programme of planning for all possible outcomes. We expect to negotiate a successful deal with the EU.

The UK government is clear that in this scenario we must respect our unique relationship with Ireland, with whom we share a land border and who are co-signatories of the Belfast Agreement. The UK government has consistently placed upholding the Agreement and its successors at the heart of our approach. It enshrines the consent principle on which Northern Ireland’s constitutional status rests. We recognise the basis it has provided for the deep economic and social cooperation on the island of Ireland. This includes North-South cooperation between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which we’re committed to protecting in line with the letter and spirit of Strand two of the Agreement.

The Irish government have indicated they would need to discuss arrangements in the event of no deal with the European Commission and EU countries. The UK would stand ready in this scenario to engage constructively to meet our commitments and act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, recognising the very significant challenges that the lack of a UK-EU legal agreement would pose in this unique and highly sensitive context.

It remains, though, the responsibility of the UK government, as the sovereign government in Northern Ireland, to continue preparations for the full range of potential outcomes, including no deal. As we do, and as decisions are made, we’ll take full account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and participate in other EU arrangements. As such, in many areas, these countries adopt EU rules. Where this is the case, these technical notices may also apply to them, and EEA businesses and citizens should consider whether they need to take any steps to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

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