Brexit may present opportunities for UK pressure equipment makers

Leaving the European Union could provide UK pressure equipment manufacturers with significant opportunities to develop new markets provided the Government establishes appropriate safety rules, according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The UK has a long history of manufacturing pressure safety equipment which is essential to a wide range of industries, ranging from large-scale power plants to coffee machines in public cafes.

If the UK leaves the single market and customs union, equipment makers in the UK will no longer have to certify equipment using the EU’s well known Conformite Europeenne (CE) safety mark.

The Government has proposed a UK mark and new regulations to maintain safety standards.

“If the UK leaves the customs union, there is an opportunity for the UK to streamline existing legislation and open up the UK to new markets and future trade deals,” said Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution.

UK regulations may, in time, come to recognise other national safety rules such as the US National Board and the Japanese High Pressure Gas Control Law, where suitable trade relationships have been established and an equivalent level of safety has been demonstrated.

In its report “Pressure Equipment and CE Marking: Impact and Opportunities of Brexit”, the Institution made the following recommendations:

  1. CE marking of pressure equipment should cease to be mandatory in the UK. The CE mark should instead be recognised as a minimum benchmark for pressure equipment safety, and instead of being mandatorily applied, should be considered as one route to acceptance of pressure equipment in the UK. Other routes to acceptance of pressure equipment in the UK should be established where it can be demonstrated that at least an equivalent level of safety to the CE mark can be achieved. This approach should form part of Government negotiation with non-EU bodies and organisations.
  2. The UK Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) 2000 should be retained as UK legislation for pressure equipment.
  3. For export from the UK to the EU – the CE mark will still be formally required to be applied. Therefore, Government should seek to maintain UK exporters’ and other stakeholders’ influence in developments in the European Pressure Equipment Directive in the EU.

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