September 12, 2019

European Chemicals Agency Urges Companies to Prepare for "No-Deal" Brexit

The European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, is urging companies to prepare for a “no-deal” scenario ahead of the United Kingdom’s upcoming withdrawal from the European Union, an action often referred to as “Brexit.” The U.K. is set to leave the EU on Oct. 31, 2019, following a June 2016 referendum in which U.K. constituents voted to withdraw from the EU. A no-deal scenario would mean that the U.K. would leave the EU at the end of October with no withdrawal agreement in place regarding the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU. Oct. 31 is the new expected withdrawal date; in April, the European Council agreed to a “flexible extension” for Brexit until Oct. 31 at the latest. Continued political uncertainty regarding the withdrawal agreement means that a no-deal scenario remains a possibility. Instructions and resources published on ECHA’s website are intended to help chemical companies based in Europe prepare for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.

ECHA recommends that companies act now to stay on the EU market after Brexit by continuing to comply with their obligations under the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, which requires companies to identify and manage the risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market in the EU; the EU regulation on the classification, labelling, and packaging of substances and mixtures, or CLP; the Biocidal Products Regulation, or BPR; and PIC, the EU regulation concerning the export and import of hazardous chemicals. Following Brexit, EU chemicals legislation will no longer apply to U.K.-based companies if their chemical substances are placed on the market only in the U.K. However, ECHA cautions companies to follow developments related to U.K. legislation. According to the agency, the U.K. intends to make the EU legislation valid in the U.K. at least temporarily after Brexit.

Further details are available in ECHA’s press release, which includes links to resources such as information on Brexit, how to transfer U.K. REACH registrations prior to Brexit, and a list of substances registered only by U.K. companies. ECHA also provides a “Brexit preparedness checklist” (PDF) for companies doing business in the EU.