Managing the unexpected – Brexit, ISO standards and risk management in times of regulatory uncertainty

July 7, 2016

On the 23rd of June the British people took a momentous decision for the UK to leave the EU. 'Brexit', as it is known, is some way off but discussion continues on the implications and the process for severing UK's ties with the EU. The timescale for Brexit, although unclear, is not immediate. The UK government must invoke Lisbon treaty Article 50 and negotiating a withdrawal agreement can then begin. Withdrawal can start in 2 years from this date, or when agreement is reached. 

So what does it mean for organisations that are currently certified to ISO, EU and British standards or for organisation's working in or trading with suppliers and customers in these blocs?

The short answer is 'We don't know exactly and won't for some time, however…'

Some things stay the same: international standards like ISO 9001 have been around for almost 30 years, almost as long as the UK has been an EU member, and continue to apply. Organisations working to any ISO standards will be recognised in the UK and EU and certification will continue to assure customers of the ability to identify and manage risks through robust systems and effective processes.

The UK will continue to be a valued contributor to ISO standards development such as ISO 9001.

How might things change?

The UK role in developing European standards is not guaranteed post-Brexit and will no doubt form part of Article 50 negotiations.

In the UK, we know we are living in 'interesting times' and, as Brexit unfolds, our understanding will improve and the way forward will become clearer.

Use of ISO standards and accredited certification will continue to show that organisations, wherever located, have robust risk management processes within their quality management systems, including for managing regulatory change and are able to consistently able to satisfy customers and other interested parties.


Paul Simpson
Article by Paul Simpson

Paul is the Global Policy, Risk and Certification Manager for SAI Global. Paul's career has covered quality, management systems, certification and accreditation, having held a number of senior roles in BSI, SIRA and Network Rail before joining SAI Global. Paul is also involved in professional institutes providing advice on standards development including EU Directives, quality, risk, health & safety and conformity assessment topics.

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