In Exclusives, Insight

As the UK prepares for Brexit, the €78bn EU cosmetics industry is scrambling to understand the possible changes to the regulatory environment and develop suitable contingency plans. 

More than 500 SME manufacturers and an unknown number of brands make up the €11.1bn cosmetic and personal care industry in the UK. These companies, alongside thousands more in the European Union, need to take urgent action so that they are prepared for the changes that Brexit will bring, and can continue trading after the exit date.

Deal or No Deal?

The advice we are providing our clients at MSL Solution Providers is “Prepare for a ‘No Deal’ and be prepared for all scenarios.” The changes Brexit will bring will come into force regardless of a deal. However, if the UK leaves without one, then the new regulations are effective as of the exit date (currently set as 31 January 2020), rather than after a transition period, to December 2020. 

What Are the Key Implications?

Cosmetics sold in the UK and EU are currently subject to European Cosmetic Regulation EC 1223/2009. Following Brexit, new UK legislation will almost certainly replace the existing EU Regulation within the UK. As with all new UK legislation intended to replace existing EU regulations, this will initially be closely aligned with the EU text with amendments to ensure the text makes sense in the new environment (e.g. changing “Community” to “United Kingdom”). While changes such as these may appear to be small, they may have significant impacts on the regulation of cosmetic products in the UK & EU post-Brexit.

The most notable issues raised involve Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP) transfers, relabeling, and the requirement for a suitable “Responsible Person” as a legal entity to represent UK cosmetic businesses within the EU community—and vice versa (a suitable “Responsible Person” to represent EU businesses within the UK).  

Responsible Person (RP)

Every cosmetic product currently made available on the EU market must have a Responsible Person (RP). This legal entity must be “established within the Community.” Products intended to be sold in the UK and the EU post-Brexit will be subject to two different RP requirements: EU and/or UK RP.

This is significant because the RP must:

  • Complete the Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP) Notification
  • Compile and hold the Product Information File (PIF)
  • List their name and address on the product packaging (so this will require packaging changes for all products with UK-based RPs)

Importantly, the RP is also responsible for ensuring the product is safe for use and must be able to discuss technical and safety issues with the relevant Competent Authority. This requires access to potentially sensitive information. After Brexit, all UK RPs will be invalid in the EU. If a valid alternative is not arranged, then the EU importer will take on the role of RP. This means the importer would take on the associated liabilities and be able to request significant amounts of, potentially confidential, data to undertake their duties

Since UK companies will no longer be legal entities within the EU post-Brexit, we have a wholly-owned subsidiary business in Dublin, Ireland, which can take on this role. Similarly, thanks to our Greater Manchester-based UK HQ, we can act as the UK Responsible Person for EU businesses wishing to trade within the UK too. We are therefore able to offer a dual Responsible Person service, helping companies gain regulatory compliance and seamless entry to both the EU and UK markets without having to deal with multiple service providers.

CPNP Notifications

The EU CPNP (Cosmetic Product Notification Portal) intends to deactivate UK portal entities after 31 January 2020. It is imperative that products which have previously been registered on the CPNP with a UK-based RP are changed to an EU-based entity before the exit date, or a full re-notification will be required. After this date, new products will not be able to be registered on the EU Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP) by a UK-based RP.

It is highly likely that the UK will introduce a similar registration system to the EU CPNP, where every cosmetic product intended to be placed on the UK market must be notified, with the support of a UK-based RP. After Brexit, those:

  • Which already have an EU CPNP notification will need to have a notification on the new UK CPNP (within 90 days after 31 January 2020 if there is “no deal”)
  • Which have not previously been notified on the EU CPNP will require notification on the new UK CPNP before being placed on the market

If this is left to the date of withdrawal, then businesses have just 90 days to undertake the following:

  • Set up a UK legal entity or mandate your UK Responsible Person duties to a UK entity
  • Notify all products on the UK CPNP
  • Begin to update product packaging labels with the new RP details. It is noted that all labeling must be made compliant with the UK Regulation (including UK RP details) within 2 years after 31 January 2020.

Photo: A Perry via Unsplash

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