Ellen Daniels, BCGA CEO
MAY 2020: What about Brexit?
They say a day is a long time in politics, and the last six months must have felt like an eternity for some. We've gone from the papers being dominated by Brexit and the "Boris bump" from the Conservatives' General Election win, to a complete shift in focus onto Coronavirus, with Brexit relegated to small columns buried in the middle of the newspapers.
However, Brexit is still incredibly important. We have questions from members regularly asking if the Brexit timetable is still on track, with the UK exiting the transition period at the end of 2020, and it is something we at the BCGA are in regular discussions about with Government.
Will Brexit still happen at the end of the year?
The answer to this is that yes, according to the UK Government, so far, Brexit will definitely be going ahead on 31st December. Negotiations have taken different forms, switching from in-person meetings to virtual ones. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is rumoured to be flying out to Brussels next month to kick-start in-person negotiations.
However, if there is to be an extension, it will have to be decided by and agreed on both sides by 30th June.
Brexit will have a major impact on BCGA members, particularly around customs, standards, chemical regulations and potentially transport. Road transport regulations are normalised by the ADR legislation, and in the UK, by the enactment of the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulation (CDG). Pre-existing CDG regulations bring together ADR and TPED, the latter being an EU Directive. As CDG is a combination of ADR and TPED, the Department for Transport are looking at these regulations and how Brexit will impact the TPED aspect.
There are three possible Brexit scenarios:
~No deal- the UK completely diverges legislatively from the EU, with no mutual recognition and tariffs being imposed on products traded. Revert to WTO tariffs.
~Deal, but no mutual recognition- the UK and the EU could potentially agree smaller deals depending on sectors, possibly with mutual recognition for some and not others.
~Deal with mutual recognition- regulations and standards are recognised by both the EU and the UK and allows for ease of trade. This would be the least disruptive to UK manufacturing.
These scenarios all have different impacts on the industry, with a "no deal" Brexit having the biggest effect, which would see the imposition of tariffs on products crossing borders. We still have to wait and see which of these three options will be agreed upon by the EU and the UK.
What BCGA has been doing on Brexit?
BCGA has still been very active on Brexit over the last few months. We are in regular contact with the likes of Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who are BCGA's "sponsoring" Government Departments.
We are feeding into DfT policy development on transport regulations, and have joined several supply chain groups which has allowed us to feed into Brexit policy development around the likes of customs, immigration, chemical regulations and more.
BCGA is also heavily involved in standards development, with Jake and several BCGA members sitting on and chairing different BSI Committees. I have also had discussions with BSI's policy team, and through these different channels we have been feeding through our views on Brexit and its impact on standards.
We are also feeding into the potential amendments to the CDG regulations, and have consulted with members on this.
If any BCGA members have concerns or queries about Brexit and its impact, please don't hesitate to contact me
APRIL 2020: An Unexpected Beginning at the BCGA
I joined the BCGA in February with a full induction schedule to take me up to the famous annual conference. The Conference was scheduled to take place today (23/4), until Coronavirus took over. To mark the occasion, this will be the first in a series of monthly blogs, highlighting what I've been up to over the last few weeks, analysing key industry issues, and outlining some of the key events for the association going forward. The biggest announcement in this month's blog is the launch of a BCGA webinar, with further details below.
During my first 6 six weeks of "normality", I spent a lot of time in Derby, absorbing as much information as possible from Doug, in order to continue the fantastic work he has done over the last 14 years. I also met with TAS, who provide all our administrative support, as well as our auditors. I spent time visiting members, managing to visit an ASU, cylinder manufacturers, filling stations and others.
Alongside Jake, the BCGA's Technical Manager, I also attended many of the TSC meetings, although several unfortunately had to be postponed. It's clear that the industry is key for so many supply chains and different sectors- chemicals, transport, pharmaceuticals, medicines, food and more! This is part of the reason I felt so drawn to it, and I'm looking forward to meeting more members, both virtually and in person, when circumstances allow.
It would be impossible not to mention the impact of the Coronavirus on the BCGA and the industry. BCGA members have been fantastic in responding to the pandemic- from the gas manufacturers to those who provide vital equipment to support key supply chains such as medicine and food. Our members have been vital in ensuring there is as little disruption as possible to other critical sectors.
We've also had excellent communication with government- working with the likes of Department for Transport, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and others to make sure demand for the likes of medical oxygen is met. Moreover, we also worked to ensure that the industrial gases sector and its supply chains are recognised as critical business sectors. We wrote to the Prime Minister and several other Ministers, and received a letter from Secretary of State for Business Alok Sharma MP, thanking the industry for its hard work in such a challenging time, and stating "that there is no restriction on manufacturing continuing under the current rules", which was an excellent result.
We also put together a Coronavirus Briefing paper for members, which points out where to go for the latest government information.
Additionally, BCGA has moved all its meetings to online, which is working well with great member engagement.
Conference was going to be a great opportunity to begin a discussion about the vision for the BCGA and what the plans are for the future. It would also have been a great opportunity to give Doug the send off he deserves. We'll find a suitable opportunity to do that when circumstances allow. In the meantime, we're grateful for his continued support in his role as consultant until the end of June.
In spite of the current circumstances, BCGA is continuing to work on behalf of its members across a range of different issues. In this spirit, I intend to share my planned presentation for conference through online webinars.
I will outline what I think the key issues are for the industry, how these can be solved. The dates for these webinars, along with registration details, will be sent out shortly.
I'm really excited about the future at BCGA and what we can all achieve together.