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No-Deal Brexit Poses Severe Regulatory Challenges for RFID Suppliers in the U.K.

Since a Brexit deal appears unlikely, RFID suppliers must be prepared for the coming changes.
By Ronald E. Quirk
Jul 05, 2019

The United Kingdom's Brexit battle has been enervating, to say the least. With competing interests taking a hard line, the original Brexit deadline of Mar. 31, 2019, has come and gone. As the new deadline of Oct. 31, 2019, looms with no deal in sight and a new Prime Minister to be chosen during the week of July 22, 2019, the future of Brexit remains murky.

A Brexit Deal May Be Unlikely
Candidate Boris Johnson has pledged that if he is the new Prime Minister, Brexit will happen on Oct. 31, whether or not there is a deal with the European Union. Johnson's opponent, Jeremy Hunt, has vowed to "cease all discussions" with Brussels on Sept. 30 if the E.U. fails to budge on its current demands. Meanwhile, many U.K. business leaders are apoplectic, asserting that the candidates' "no-deal" pledges illustrate the "height of irresponsibility," showing "zero understanding" of the economic consequences.

Stephen Phipson, the chief executive of Make UK, Britain's largest manufacturing organization, called the prospect of a no-deal Brexit "economic lunacy." Phipson declared that this year, U.K. manufacturers have already suffered the sharpest fall in activity in six and a half years, adding to signs of economic weakness.

What a No-Deal Brexit Means for RFID Suppliers
Whatever economic consequences may befall the U.K. because of a no-deal Brexit, RFID suppliers that do business in the United Kingdom will be subject to new regulations. It is critical for all RFID stakeholders with British markets to understand the new regulations, as violators will be subject to substantial fines and other sanctions.

Currently, RFID equipment may be marketed in the United Kingdom if it meets the requirements of the E.U.'s Radio Equipment Directive (RED) and Low Voltage Directive (LVD). Some equipment is also subject to the Restriction on Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE). The E.U. and U.K. also require conformity with various harmonized standards.

In the E.U., the parties responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance for RFID equipment are manufacturers, importers and distributors. Before placing RFID equipment on the E.U. market, a manufacturer must perform a conformity assessment procedure (CAP) to confirm that the equipment meets the requirements of the applicable directives and harmonized standards. There are three types of CAPs, but they all involve compiling technical data, performing compliance testing, labeling equipment (with a CE Mark and, in some instances, the identification number of an E.U. government body), preparing a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) attesting to compliance, and having a compliance plan in place. Importers and distributors have their own, but less onerous, compliance requirements. An importer or distributor that markets RFID equipment under its own name or trademark, or that makes technical changes to the equipment, will be classified as a manufacturer for the purposes of marketing in the E.U.

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