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Brexit raises questions over standards

Those UK manufacturers producing hardware that has to comply to EU standards might find life becoming more difficult post Brexit

Customers like standards because of the stamp of authority they give a product or service and the sense of assurance they give that the IT they have invested in is of a high quality.

In days gone by a lot of those standards were a series of numbers preceded by the letters BS but more commonly it is not British Standards but BS EU ones that have been adhered to by manufacturers.

Following Brexit there could be a change to standards because of Britain's position outside the EU and that is furrowing some brows in the channel.

Chris Hall, commercial development office, at UK manufacturer Siderise, has shared some thoughts about the standards issue on a blog post raising some questions for those in the British IT industry that still produce their own products.

"The British Standards Association (BSI) is one of 33 voting members of CEN (European Committee for Standardisation). However CEN rules state that you can only join CEN if you are a member of the EU or about to become a member," he wrote.

Some other non-EU countries, notably Norway and Switzerland, can sit down at the EU standards table because of their membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Hall argued that the UK needed to join them.

"When the UK finally leaves the EU it will therefore be essential for the UK to rejoin EFTA otherwise the BSI will have to argue for a change in statutes of CEN so that they can continue their membership of this organisation.  And in that scenario, there may well be a lot of political pressure to keep us out," he added.

One of the problems with BS testing according to Hall is that some is out of date and not relevant to real life scenarios.

If the UK has to revert to relying solely on British Standards then there could be implications for manufacturers because they might still have to adhere to EU standards to meet some compliance regulations.

"At the moment the UK has a vote and we can influence EU standards, and on occasion we could in theory ‘block’ standards that we did not like or at least modify them.  One scenario is that we can go to meetings post-Brexit, provide technical input, but in the end not have a vote – unless of course we negotiate some arrangement whereby we are allowed to vote," said Hall.

"Whatever the outcome, we must not fall out of step with Europe.  The costs to industry of totally abandoning EU standards are so vast as to be too horrible to contemplate," he added.

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