BS EN Standards and Brexit

Before I headed off to a week’s worth of U.S. and International standards meetings in Chicago earlier this month, I spoke with one of our Document Center customers.  What question came up yet again?  What’s the status with BS EN Standards and Brexit!  This was one of my top questions for my friends from the U.K. and Europe and I expected a definitive answer.  But no!  The way forward is still murky.

As expected, the official BSI (British Standards Institute) position has been that continued involvement with CEN and CENELEC is not in question.  However, there are some increasing concerns on the horizon.  These concerns will not make themselves evident until the shape of the political solution becomes more clear.

Here is the problem.  The rules of CEN and CENELEC have certain requirements for National Standards Bodies (NSBs), one of which differs slightly in the three official national language editions of the rules.  BSI has been reading this rule to mean that they could continue to the the U.K. National Standards Body (NSB) even without membership in either the EU or the Efta/EEA (the trade focused auxillary body that allows Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to participate).  Now it is starting to look like this will not work.  Revision of the rules may be necessary.  And any change requires a yes vote by 100% of the CEN/CENELEC membership.

This could mean trouble for BSI.   The fallback position would be to move to the adoption of ISO and IEC standards, counting on equivalence to pave the way for smooth trade with the continent.  Meantime, a host of questions immediately come up.  Who would be responsible for the official English language editions of the EN’s?  Would existing copies of the BS EN standards remain valid or be withdrawn?  OK, this could be a major headache for all involved.

Meantime, there are wider issues at hand for the U.K. regarding trade and technical specifications and standards.  To learn more about considerations being reviewed within the U.K., take a look at this interesting paper.  It’s Brexit Paper 14 generated by the Bar Council Brexit Working Group.  you’ll come away with the distinct impression that this has all opened up quite a can of worms!

Here at Document Center Inc., we’ll try to avoid the whiplash that comes with making predictions regarding “soft” and “hard” Brexit.  Even the British themselves will not know how this story ends until a political solution becomes clear.  The fate of BS EN Standards and Brexit itself still remain to be seen!

If you need to purchase EN standards, take a look at the Document Center webstore at  You will find a number of national editions of the various publications.  All are valid for your organization.  Any further questions?  Just get in touch with myself or our staff by phone (650-591-7600) or email (  Thank you.