Industry Opinion

Recognition of the CE mark is due to end on 30 June 2025. It will be replaced by the UK CA mark

In October, Building Engineer wrongly referred to the CE mark as a safety mark. Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the Construction Products Association (CPA), is here to set the record straight.

Following the Brexit agreement there were many detailed outcomes, including the creation of the CA mark. This is a UK version of the long-established CE mark, which was originally established to help create an even playing field across EU member states. Construction products compliant with a harmonised standard (currently 440 of them) could achieve a CE mark, resulting in borderless trading across the EU. This was adopted by the UK for frictionless borders to help trade, but it’s important to note that it was never about safety.

The UK’s approach post-Brexit is to adopt (for the moment) the EU system and effectively make it into UK law with some fairly cursory changes. This was true of the CA mark, but with a few notable exceptions. Crucially, in making the change to the UK CA mark, products would need to be retested (to the same standard) by a testing and certification body recognised in the UK.

The approvals system utilises an approach known as Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP), which sets levels of surveillance factory controls and oversight. In particular, products relevant to AVCP 3 are caught by the UK testing requirement, but for many UK construction products little or no testing and certification capacity exists within the UK.

Some testing organisations set up branch offices outside the UK partly in the hope that this shortfall in testing capacity could be circumvented, with varying degrees of success.

While a deadline was established to move products generally to CA mark, limited consultation on the practicalities means that for some products, compliance by the deadline was and still is impossible. For example, radiators, glues and sealants, and passive fire protection glass have no chance of being retested before the deadline (currently June 2025).

Peter Caplehorn is Chief Executive of the CPA, where he leads the work to ensure that the UK and EU policy and regulatory framework – particularly for technical and sustainability issues – supports a growing and profitable UK construction products industry. He also chaired the Construction Leadership Council group.

A further complication is that some products come under the Department for Business and Trade and some construction products under the remit of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Mixed messaging has occurred several times because of this departmental split – although we are now assured this will not happen again.

It has taken some time for the complexity and implications to surface; however, the government is now fully aware that if the CA mark for construction products goes ahead without changes to current plans for implementation, then significant products could disappear from the UK market. The challenge remains. There continues to be no clear answer as to how CA marking will be made to work in practice – and investment, research and development, skills, jobs and product lines slip away from the UK.

In today’s world, no supply chain is controlled by one country; many of the products found in the UK construction industry use components from across the world and many of the biggest UK household names are pan-European. This is no help to UK productivity, growth or prosperity. Manufacturing needs constancy, long-term planning and certainty. Millions of pounds have already been wasted due to this exercise. This negative drain on construction will continue until answers arrive. We are promised they are coming, but one thing is certain – they can’t come soon enough.

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Image credit | Alamy



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