Standards policy on the UK leaving the EU

BSI Brexit and Standards Event – 10 October 2018

BSI hosted a half-day briefing event in Central London on 10 October 2018 to provide an update on Brexit developments and progress in support of BSI’s ambition, supported by its stakeholders, towards continued membership of CEN and CENELEC.

The event, attended by some 150 people, began with keynotes from the Chief Executive of EEF, Stephen Phipson CBE as well as BSI Director of Standards, Dr Scott Steedman CBE. This was followed by a panel discussion on the role of standards and trade. The panellists were Liam Smyth, Director of International Trade Facilitation at the British Chambers of Commerce; David Henig, Director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy and Ben Richards, Campaigns and Policy Executive at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute as well as Scott Steedman.

The briefing represented an opportunity for BSI’s industry and consumer stakeholders to raise concerns and ask questions about the impact of Brexit on those who develop or use standards in the UK.

A highlights video summing up the main points of the event is available below. Complete footage of the event is available via the following link.



Standards policy

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.



International level

Our membership of the two international standardization organizations, ISO and IEC, will be unaffected by the UK’s exit from the EU.  BSI is committed to representing the UK’s interests in the creation of international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.