On 23 June 2016, the majority of the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the EU and on 29 March 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the formal mechanism for leaving the EU. On November 2018 EU 27 leaders advocated the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement and approved the draft political declaration about future UK -EU relations. However, on January 2019 the UK Parliament may or may not support the withdrawal agreement settled between the UK and the EU Member States. If the UK Parliament decides not to back up the withdrawal agreement, this will mean that the UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, at 11:00 PM (UTC). It also may mean that there won’t be a two-years transition period to allow the EU and the UK to make a trade deal and thus all EU laws may stop applying to the UK immediately. On the other hand all of the options could be still on the table.
With this in mind, what are the implications of “no deal” for UK REACH registrants and how can they preserve their market access to the EU/EEA after 29 March 2019 but also after a potential “deal” is reached and a transitional period ends ( currently foreseen as the 31st of December 2020)?
Under this scenario, where the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK-based companies that have registered their substances under REACH would need to take actions before an abrupt exit from the EU, if they want to preserve their access to EU and EEA market areas.
This would mean that before the UK becomes a “third country” outside the EU, and as a risk mitigation measure, UK registrants, specifically UK manufacturing companies and UK Only Representatives need to transfer their registrations to an EU/EEA based legal entity such as a subsidiary or to an Only Representative.
In addition, UK based importers may consider transferring their registration(s) to an EU-27/EEA-based legal entity, as long as it is the result of a legal entity change. The transferring of the registration(s) must take place ahead of the UK withdrawal from the EU and must be notified to ECHA without delay. Unfortunately, in the case of UK importer registrations, transferring of their registrations to an EU Only Representative is currently not possible.
Furthermore, UK downstream users that are currently importing chemicals from an EU/EEA country will have registration obligations after the 29th of March 2019 if they want to continue doing business in EU/EEA market areas.
CEFIC ( European Chemical Chemistry Council) advises that already now, companies should review their SIEF/Consortia agreements obligations in order to prepare for the future transfer of dossier rights to an EU subsidiary or to an Only Representative so they can take over the EU REACH requirement.