Since the result of the EU referendum BSI, in its role as the UK’s National Standards Body, has worked hard to ensure that certain key messages - about how standards support trade, growth and productivity - are given full weight in the ongoing discussions and negotiations over what form Brexit should take.
BSI maintains the UK’s national standards body membership of the three European standardization organizations (ESOs): CEN, CENELEC and ETSI. CEN and CENELEC coordinate the work of 34 member countries, including all of the 28 present members of the EU, in the making and the dissemination of European standards. All three organizations are entirely private bodies, and therefore not part of the EU’s institutional framework, and BSI’s continued membership should not accordingly be affected by Brexit. Some adjustment to the internal rules of CEN and CENELEC may be necessary to assure this and steps are in hand to bring this about. There are no such adjustments required in the case of ETSI.
If the UK does not maintain its full membership of CEN and CENELEC through BSI, British stakeholders would lose their influence over the content of the standards used in the 33 other member countries and British industry would face increased barriers to trade.
Currently the UK is a leading nation in the international standards system. The aim of this system is to develop one standard on any given aspect of a product or service, to be adopted in countries worldwide: a single national standard model. Europe is the most developed part of the international system as the ESO member countries must adopt the European standard identically and withdraw any conflicting national standards. This has greatly reduced cost and complexity for industry and consumers, enabled business to operate easily across borders and simplified market access.
UK stakeholders have overwhelmingly expressed their support for the UK to remain committed to the adoption of international and European standards as the national standard, used as today. BSI’s intention is to ensure that the UK is best placed, post-Brexit, to use its leadership position in international and European standards to deliver competitive advantage for UK industry.
BSI is well on the way to securing its continued full membership of CEN and CENELEC by asserting these credentials along with its continued commitment to meeting the rules of participation in the system. It has also secured the support of the UK government in this regard.
BSI’s ‘Brexit and standards position statement’ from February 2018 covers all of these points in more detail and can be downloaded here.