27 May, 2022

BFPA will continue its key role in standards development for the fluid power industry

09 December, 2016

Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU many questions have been raised. As a trade association with a very high profile reputation within the technical standards arena, BFPA is especially concerned that any future Government policy should support the UK’s ongoing involvement in the setting of those technical standards, because it is against these agreed criteria that most of our trade is conducted. If the UK was excluded from the discussions that determine these standards, the UK fluid power industry could find itself in the position of having to meet standards over which it has had no influence. This issue was high on the agenda at a recent BFPA seminar at which Dr. Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at BSI, was the keynote speaker.

BFPA is the external secretariat for 500 of the 7000 or so technical standards for which BSI is responsible and a recent members’ survey revealed this activity to be amongst the top reasons for their wishing to be a part of the association.

Dr. Steedman’s message on 1st November 2016 was clear: “development and adherence to the appropriate technical standards is a passport to manufacturing excellence and not only improves quality, and efficiency but also helps to address the productivity shortfall for which the UK is becoming all too well known. Working to an agreed standard, doesn’t have to cost money; in the longer term it actually saves money and generates income from increased sales of an improved product or service.”

Fluid power European standards are managed through CEN of which BSI is a member. All full members are committed to the single standard model for their domestic economies. This means that the same industry standard is adopted across the 33
countries for each aspect of a product or service, streamlining production, trade and consumer choice. Conflicting standards are withdrawn. UK influence through CEN over European standards is high. BSI provides over 80 Technical Committee secretariats in Europe and UK experts provide over 500 committee chairs and working group convenors. BSI also participates in all governance levels of CEN and currently holds the Vice President Policy role in CEN.
Addressing the point about post-Brexit UK influence on these committees Dr. Steedman was able to reassure the audience that
CEN and its associated international body (ISO), are private independent organisations and unless subjected to undue political pressure can choose to continue to invite UK membership even if the UK is not part of the EU. However, complacency would be unwise and at the very least lobbying supported by UK Government should be implemented sooner rather than later. With strong support from industry and other stakeholders, BSI’s ambition as the UK National Standards Body (NSB) is for the UK to remain a full member of CEN post-Brexit, enabling BSI and UK experts to continue to play a full role in the governance and technical work of the European Standards Organisations.
BSI is confident that they can deliver this ambition on the basis that:

- CEN is not an agency of the EU and has a wide membership 􀀀

- the UK continues to follow the single standard model as the most efficient market mechanism

- the UK does not compromise this market mechanism through switching to a US style fragmented standards model 

- the BSI has broad industry and other stakeholder support for this policy

The BFPA will continue to support this important work and with the on-going contributions from many BFPA members through their attendance at what are now ten BFPA Technical Committees, we hope to help UK manufacturers and suppliers weather what may be turbulent times ahead during the Brexit negotiations.

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