On 31st January 2020, unless Parliament votes to accept the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK is now scheduled to leave the EU. At present, it is unclear exactly what relationship the UK will have with the EU and the length of the implementation period, if any.
It is wise for all chemical users who currently need to comply with any aspect of REACH to put in place contingency plans to ensure business continuity and compliance with the existing REACH regulation and whatever replaces it in the UK. Here are some examples of issues that you should consider :
UK based Lead registrant in a REACH joint registration : You should transfer the lead to a co-registrant based elsewhere in the EU.
UK-based Manufacturer registrant : The best option likely to be available is to appoint an Only Representative (OR) based in the EU. Otherwise all your customers/downstream users (DU) in Europe will need to register.
ECHA has opened a ‘Brexit window’ in REACH-IT so that UK-based companies can transfer their REACH registrations. If an only representative is not appointed, the EU-27/EEA importers will have to submit their own registrations. Detailed instructions for using the ‘Brexit window’ are now available on ECHA’s web pages for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The pages also include a link to the European Chemical Industry Council’s (Cefic) recommended standard wording for the conditional clause to be used in contractual arrangements when appointing only representatives.
Trader/Importer/Distributor registrants based in the UK : You cannot appoint an OR to register substances that you send to Europe. You must either set up an operation in the EU and transfer your registrations, or all your EU customers/downstream users will need to register as importers.
For UK manufacturers and importers there will be a UK replacement for REACH. The exact shape and form is still unclear but it is intended to be very similar in its operation to REACH itself. We expect that there will be a short pre-registration period immediately after Brexit when basic details will need to be notified (e.g. substance, company, tonnage). This window may be as short as 2 months. A full registration requirement is likely to follow later. If ‘UK-REACH’ follows the format of EU-REACH, it be necessary for EU manufacturers to appoint UK based Only Representatives.
Non-EU manufacturers with UK based Only Representatives : You will need to switch to an OR based in the EU. Many UK Only Representatives have already established subsidiaries or partnerships in the EU so that contracts can be easily transferred.
Warning : ECHA charges a fee to change the Legal Entity. If it is not paid, the registrations will revert to the original Only Representative and be lost.
Companies holding EU Authorizations : Authorisations in the name of UK legal entities will also cease to exist after Brexit. It will, however, be possible to grandfather these into UK-REACH. Applications that are waiting a decision, must however, be submitted again to UK-REACH that will respect EU decisions.
All UK based chemical manufacturers and users should be auditing supply chains now to identify any chemical purchases that cross EU/UK borders. You must understand the degree to which you are affected and the preparation measures you should be taking.
With continued political uncertainty regarding the withdrawal agreement, the Agency urges companies to act now to continue compliance with their obligations under not only REACH but the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP); Prior Informed Consent (PIC); and Biocidal Products (BPR) regulations.
We also advise companies to refer to the Brexit guidance published on the UK Health and Safety Executive website.
If you would like further information or guidance on what you should be doing, please contact us via our Contact page.