The Impact of Brexit on Quality Certification
Since the announcement of Brexit, I find I am increasingly, but quite understandably, being asked by clients about its potential impact on their quality certification.
Now, as with many aspects of the Brexit, there is no definitive answer at this time, but the one thing I do know is the impact will certainly not be adverse.
Having been a quality certification consultant for many years, working with businesses of different sizes, across many industry sectors, it is my belief is that Brexit stands to increase the significance of quality certification for businesses.
In fact, I feel that for any business wishing to trade internationally it will become an essential requirement as a recognised and trusted measurement.
The current debates over the Customs Union and Free Movement are certainly a cause for concern amongst businesses, particularly those that trade in Europe however no matter what the outcome is of these negotiations, the end result certainly won’t halt international trade.
So, where do quality standards come into this?
Creating a common language for international trade
The European Parliament has provided thousands of directives over the years that have supported trade between member states, some of which have influenced quality, and, in their way, provided their own approach to quality assurance.
The most memorable of these being Commission Regulation (EC) No.2257/94, which was passed on 16th September 1994 and took effect on 1st January 1995. Now, I certainly don’t expect you to remember each individual Commission Regulation, however this one you will definitely be aware of – the EU regulation specifying the classification standards for bananas. More widely known as the ‘Bendy Banana Law’!
Through this and many other Commission Regulations, importers and exporters have been provided with a common language enabling them to recognise and add a value to, the quality of a product or service that is being provided by a business located in another member state.
Many of these Regulations are committed to British law now, and it will take several years to untangle them and potentially ascertain a different common language that proves quality and inspires trust between international businesses. But, ISO standards already provide that language, and have been doing so for over 30 years.
Through ISO being long established and internationally recognised, businesses across Europe don’t have to wait for a clear direction on the ‘new’ language to find trust in the products and services they procure from Britain, it is already there if the business holds and implements the appropriate quality certifications through an effective management system. Thus, positioning ISO standards as a vital bridge to support the continuation of trade while our policy makers work out the finer details to untangle us from the EU.
Invest in the right language
With this in mind, I further believe that, no matter what sector you operate in, the pressure to prove and provide quality goods and services and create trust will significantly increase the need for businesses to hold the ‘golden trio’ of quality standards – ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems, ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems and OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (which will soon become the globally recognised ISO 45001:2018 around March this year).
By holding these three certifications, British businesses are clearly communicating to international customers that they are serious about and dedicated to continuous improvement and are conscientious, both in terms of their impact on the environment and how they treats their employees – three vital characteristics required when creating a trusted supply chain, both at home and abroad.
So, although the outcome of Brexit negotiations is anyone’s guess, ISO helps to bring certainty to international trade, at a time of significant uncertainty. I am therefore advising my clients to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, while making sure that they highlight the certifications they hold to their international customers.
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Author: Peter Jones, Independent Advice for Business