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Brexit: EU Commission notice on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom


As recently announced by the European Commission, the government of the United Kingdom submitted the notification of its intention to withdraw from the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2017. This means that, unless further withdrawal agreements establish another date, the EU law will no longer apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019 (“withdrawal date”). The United Kingdom will then officially become a “third country”.

Preparing for the withdrawal is not just a matter for the EU and the Member States’ national authorities but also for private parties. In particular, economic operators (e.g. distributors, importers, etc.) will face the legal repercussions as soon as the United Kingdom becomes a third country. Certainly, this will cause massive consequences for products placed on the EU market as from the withdrawal date.

According to EU legislation, the importer is the economic operator established in the EU who places a product from a third country on the EU market. As from the withdrawal date, a manufacturer or importer established in the United Kingdom will no longer be considered as an economic operator established in the EU. Therefore, an economic operator established in the EU who, prior to the withdrawal date, has been considered as a distributor for UK companies will become an importer for the products that this economic operator places on the EU market as from the withdrawal date. This economic operator must then comply with the specific requirements and obligations relevant to an importer, which are different from those of a distributor.

In the event a manufacturer decide to designate an Authorized Representative in accordance with the specific EU legislation, it will be required to have this Authorized Representative (e.g. for medical devices) or Responsible Person (for cosmetic products) located in a Member State of the EU.

As from the withdrawal date, Authorized Representatives or Responsible Persons established in the United Kingdom will no longer be recognized as Authorized Representatives or Responsible Persons for the purposes of the applicable EU legislation.

Manufacturers, importers and all other entities concerned are strongly advised to take the necessary measures and ensure that, as from the withdrawal date, their designated Authorized Representatives or Responsible Persons are established in a Member State of the EU.