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European Commission publishes notice on consequences of Brexit for distributors and manufacturers

The European Commission has published a notice setting out the consequences of Brexit for UK "economic operators" (manufacturers, importers, distributors and authorised representatives) who place non-food and non-agricultural products on the EU market. Subject to any transitional arrangements, the UK will become a "third country" upon Brexit and will no longer be subject to EU rules. The notice highlights the following consequences which are of particular interest to distributors and manufacturers:

  • UK becomes a third country upon Brexit, EU-based economic operators who sell UK products will become importers, as opposed to distributors. This change in status means that those economic operators will become subject to importers' obligations, which are different from those of distributors.

  • Manufacturing authorised representatives: Under EU law, manufacturers who choose (or are obliged) to designate an authorised representative (AR) or responsible person must ensure that such entity is established in the EU. Upon Brexit, ARs and responsible persons who are established in the UK will no longer be recognised under EU law so manufacturers will need to ensure that their ARs and responsible persons are established in the EU.

  • UK Notified Bodies are no longer recognised. In some product areas, EU law requires the intervention of an independent "Notified Body" in the conformity assessment procedure. The Notified Body issues certificates in respect of products. Upon Brexit, UK Notified Bodies (such as the British Standards Institution) will no longer be recognised by the European Commission. Instead, certificates will need to be sought from Notified Bodies within the EU.

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