This includes taking part in the ‘Access to Finance Committee’ meetings, discussing the finance needs of SMEs, and being invited to the prestigious Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. This is a great way to present GA members’ views to the people who can potentially make the changes.
GA CEO Sarah Ward was in attendance, invited by the British Toy and Hobby Association to the ‘The Future of CE Marking’ meeting to discuss the challenges and benefits of the CE marking and potentially moving away to a UK only safety standard.
Safety and product testing is a big issue in the home and gift industry, and with it affecting so many member businesses, Sarah was once again honoured to go to the Palace of Westminster, hosted by Neil Coyle MP and staff from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy, to discuss the future of the safety marking after Brexit.
The progress of Brexit and what it means to UK businesses has been slow, with information being drip fed from the government, which can be worrying for a business trying to plan for the future. The Toy and Hobby Association has set up a confederation of sorts with 11 fellow associations, representing more than 3000 businesses who will be affected by the future of safety testing and the CE mark. The Toy Retailers Association, Hasbro Toys, Tech UK and the British Standards Institute were all in attendance.
The mark currently gives industry and consumer confidence and to many companies, and is a sign of the free trade movement that is recognised across the EU members states. The concerns from all in attendance was that after Brexit, if a new UK only mark was to be introduced, whether this be recognised amongst other EU member states and whether the relationship between the UK and EU be strong enough for the mark to be recognised.
Timescales were also discussed, with the government not being transparent on timelines or deadlines, with a strong contingent wishing to remain with the current CE marking. There still needs to be a great deal of discussion on further steps to ensure that the most effective safety marking, whether CE or otherwise, is implemented.
The Giftware Association will be party to further discussiom and is to update to its members and the industry at large in due course.