The Brexit consequences for BEAL

During the past weeks, there were many subjects about Brexit and the consequences for companies in French and British medias.

As a lot of companies were not very aware of the consequences of the Brexit (except for the potential delivery problems due to a longer transit time), a lot of journalists visited us as we expressed serious issues months ago.

We received a lot of comments. Some were of course very positives, some others a lot less…
I think it is time, one month before the theoretical Brexit date, to summarize “our Brexit story” and our problem for the CE marking

FACTS :

The CE marking is mandatory for the products that are submitted to European standards.

In order to be able to mark our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) with the CE, we have to do two things :

  1. The BEAL products are tested by a notified Laboratory. At BEAL, we chose for most of our products the laboratory APAVE that is situated in France (Fontaine).
  2. Every year, BEAL is audited by a notified Body. This audit is made to verify that our processes are well organized, that there is no difference between our original product and the one we are manufacturing and of course some tests are done during this audit. 30 years ago, we chose, as notified Body, the famous company SGS. For us and for our customer, SGS had the advantage to get an international image. But let’s make it clear: the audits are carried out by SGS subsidiaries, but administratively, the CE marking accreditation is delivered by SGS UK based in London. Our last audit operated in November 2018 was carried out SGS Portugal. Based on the audit report made by SGS Portugal, SGS UK gave us the accreditation.

Why does BEAL have a specific problem with the Brexit?

We have one main issue with the Brexit. To be valid, the CE accreditation must be delivered by a notified body situated in the European union. On 29th March 2019, the UK will no longer be part of the European Union (unless the date is postponed).
So our accreditation would not be valid anymore. Let’s say that this problem has been identified by the EU and UK as a transition period until 31st December 2020 and has been negotiated in the case of a negotiated Brexit. During this transition, the CE accreditation given by UK notified Body would still be valid.

But it seems that SGS did not realise that there was an uncertainty about the acceptance of the deal by UK Parliament. SGS reacted lately and started to transfer the competence for the CE marking accreditation from SGS UK to SGS OY based in Finland. In order to help its customer, SGS also started a complex process to make the former accreditation recognized by the new office in Finland.

Thanks to these still pending actions, we may think that the problem is solved. It is unfortunately not the case. For BEAL and the other PPE manufacturers, we must mark our products with the CE + 4 digits. These 4 digits are the number of the notified body. SGS UK has the number 0120 so all our current products are marked CE0120. The Finnish office of SGS has the number 0598…

So it means that in the case of a no deal BREXIT, on 30th March, we will have to change all our packaging, instructions of use and production database to remove the CE0120 and replace it by CE0598.

BUT the situation could have been way worse. The European regulations are very strict about the CE marking. The conformity of the CE marking is evaluated when the product is released on the market. We are talking here of each individual product.
It means that the CE marking must be conformed when we make the first sale on the EU territory. Thus, this regulation would mean that all our products marked CE0120 we have on stock, would become illegal comes 30th March!

Luckily, the European commission changed its vision and released a statement on 1ST February explaining that in the case of hard Brexit, the CE marking would be evaluated from the date of production! So our stock CE marked CE0120 will finally be cleared for sale. It is in the absolute opposition to the European regulations but this is a huge relief for BEAL.

We don’t think that our intervention was the only reason for such an evolution. But it is very important to note that we have been contacted and supported by a lot of political actors who interacted with the French government and also with Michel Barnier the EU Brexit negotiator. We want to thank all of them for their actions:
Thierry Kovacs (Mayor of our city of Vienne), Caroline Abadie (Deputy of Isère), Laurent Wauquiez (President of our Region Auvergne -Rhône-Alpes) and the MEDEF (Union of the Employers) who did an incredible job.

If this article raises interest to you then please, can contact me directly. I will try to answer any question you may have: fredericbeal@beal-planet.com

We will also find below, all the links to my interventions in the medias :