The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has written to cabinet ministers from three different Government departments urging the Government to resolve the looming crisis over product compliance, namely UKCA marking and CE marking for products to comply with the Construction Products Regulation in the UK and in the EU respectively.
After 31st December 2021, CE marked products will no longer be compliant in the GB market (England, Scotland and Wales) and products will require to be UKCA marked to be UK CPR compliant. Simultaneously, products exported from the UK and placed into the European Union market will have to be CE marked for EU CPR compliance.
In the UK from 1st January 2022 products that fall under Construction Products Regulation (which is entwined in UK legislation) will have to legally be UKCA marked.
The UKCA marking cannot be used for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market. If an EU27 notified body has been used for CE marking for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market then the manufacturer can continue to place product in NI using the CE mark. If the manufacturer uses a UK body for CE marking services and they are a UK Approved Body then the product must display the CE and UKNI marks. From 1st January 2022 Northern Ireland manufacturers can only place goods in the GB market which are UKCA marked and supported by a UK Approved Body unless they meet qualifying Northern Ireland goods status in which case they will qualify for unfettered access.
For UK companies that have been complying with the CPR and have had their products tested by a UK Approved Body (Test House), it means they will be able to continue to place those products on the UK market as they will comply with UKCA. However, products that have been tested by an EU Notified Body (Test House) will have to be re-tested at a UK Approved Body (Test House) to comply with UKCA standards.
For UK companies that export to the EU (including Republic of Ireland) and have had their products tested by a UK Approved Body (Test House) they will have to be re-tested by an EU Notified Body (Test House) and re-certify their products to comply with CE marking.
The UK Government had earlier this year, proposed the solution of a “Mutual Recognition Agreement” with test evidence and certification for products both in the UK and EU would be mutually accepted by the respective parties. However, this proposal was rejected by the EU.
It leaves UK companies with a huge headache and three obstacles to overcome with regards to product compliance.
Firstly the costs can range from £500 to £5000 per product.
Secondly, the time involved in testing and compliance through to certification can take three months or longer. This issue is further compounded due to UK Test Houses also having to test products for the GB market from companies outside the EU and UK.
Thirdly, there is currently a severe lack of testing facilities in the UK.
Looking ahead it will mean new products developed by UK companies will have to use an EU Notified Body to enable affixing of CE marking for the EU market and a UK Approved Body to enable affixing of the UKCA marking for the GB market, meaning a duplication of testing and conformity assessment to, as it stands today, identical product standards.
On the critical situation, John Agnew, GGF Group Managing Director said, “On behalf of our Members and industry it is incumbent upon us to do all we can to resolve this situation before the deadline at the end of the year. We have written to the key ministers in Government, outlined the pressing issues and asked for a meeting as soon as possible to find solutions.”
As well as raising the matter with Government, the GGF is also on the Construction Leadership Council Working Party which includes trade bodies such as Construction Products Association and Federation of Master Builders.
Last September, at the 2020 GGF Annual Conference (Members’ Day) the GGF Technical Team flagged the issues and in February this year, the GGF carried out an open forum on the subject. Aligned to those presentations, the GGF is also raising the matter at regular technical and regional meetings. More recently, the GGF sent out a survey from Government asking Members to submit their views direct to the Government department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
On 20th July, the GGF will be attending a BEIS video conference to further discuss the issues and urge the Government to act sooner rather than later to resolve the issue.
In the letter (sent 8 July) to the Government departments (Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government, Department for Business Energy Industrial Strategy and HM Treasury), the GGF has asked that a “Mutual Recognition Agreement” is re-visited and re-proposed or an alternative solution is found before the deadline. The GGF has also asked for an additional extension of at least two years to the deadline, to allow companies time to ensure their products are compliant.
John Agnew added, “This crisis is deepening with each passing day and parts of the industry could come to a grinding halt or companies in desperation could place products on the market without legal compliance. Either way, if it’s not resolved, then there could be serious consequences for our industry and the broader construction sector.”