On March 29, 2019, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) (aka Brexit) will be official. How this separation occurs could have significant ramifications in regard to your REACH obligations.
If a deal can be agreed upon by the other EU27/EEA countries and Britain’s government, then the transition would be completed over the next 18-24 months. However, should no deal be reached, a hard stop would occur on March 30th and major REACH challenges could arise whether your company is in the EU, UK or US.
The REACH regulation applies to anyone manufacturing or importing chemicals into the EU27/EEA countries. Once Brexit occurs, the United Kingdom will no longer be part of the EU and therefore will be treated as any other country. REACH will no longer apply to UK chemical businesses unless they wish to sell into the EU27/EEA countries or if they are part of a supply chain connected to the EU.
Furthermore, if the hard stop occurs, then the UK will immediately initiate their own UK REACH program. This program will mimic the EU REACH regulations. If you import into the UK and meet the registration requirements you will need to register your substance with the UK REACH Competent Authority. Registration is accomplished by creation and submission of a substance dossier into the new UK REACH-IT system.
Among the many issues arising from the hard stop, there are three unique challenges that EU, UK and even US chemical importing companies must overcome, and immediately resolve.
1. Ensuring Your Only Representative (OR) Remains Valid
Only representatives (ORs) are entities that handle all REACH responsibilities for importers who do not have business units within the EU. They are the legal owners of the REACH responsibilities.
If your chemical business (EU, UK or US) has relied on an OR operating inside of the UK, it may no longer be valid after March 29, 2019, and you must find a new OR within the EU27/EEA promptly if you wish to legally import to the EU27/EEA.
Likewise, as of Brexit, British chemical manufacturers and suppliers will be treated as non-EU exporters, and as such they must find a valid OR if they wish to continue to conduct business with the EU27/EEA, despite no longer being locally impacted by EU REACH.
2. Remaining REACH-Compliant Up Your Supply Chain
Now more than ever you need to understand every facet of your supply chain. Your manufacturing company may have been relying on “up-the-supply-chain” coverage, meaning that the chemicals supplied for your product to be imported into the EU27/EEA had already been registered by the chemicals manufacturing company, removing this responsibility from your capacity.
Your importation business is at risk if you blindly trust your chemicals supplier to remain REACH-compliant, though. For instance, they could be utilizing an OR that operates within the UK, which is now no longer valid. It is pertinent that supply chains are audited for compliance to ensure business and imports will be able to continue legally and snag-free.
3. Preparing for Authorizations
Along with the registration aspect of REACH, there is also the Authorization process, which Brexit may affect as well. If you are a manufacturer within the EU and are relying upon a product or process that requires an Authorized use of a hazardous substance (Annex 14), then you should verify that the Authorization does not have a foundation within the UK. All Authorizations that have been submitted and granted to entities within the UK will be no longer valid if the Brexit hard stop occurs on March 29, 2019. These Authorizations may have been transitioned to other entities within the new EU, however, one should thoroughly review their documentation and supply chain to verify that the continued use of these substances remains legal.
An Opportunity for All-Around Compliance
There is barely any time to wait: After Brexit your chemicals business may be at risk of losing compliance and the legal right to work with EU businesses. Until and unless the United Kingdom introduces legislation to temporarily validate REACH within the UK in a transitory period, you must find an OR that can support you through every challenge.
Tetra Tech has years of experience as only representatives for REACH compliance and authorizations, representing North American-based exporters and operating out of Tetra Tech’s offices in the US and in Germany. Our folks are here to help in a variety of ways, by:
- Providing OR (only representative) support to your chemicals business
- Acting as interim only representation if and until UK legislation passes
- Auditing your supply chain to hold it accountable to REACH compliance
- Reviewing your reliance on authorized substances and ensuring compliance to allow your business to continue seamlessly
To ensure your operation can legally conduct business within the European Union, contact Tetra Tech’s only representative office at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation and needs.