FETA Chairman's letter on the EU Referendum

Dear FETA members,

In the wake of the EU referendum there has been much political activity, both within the UK and beyond, and endless speculation as to how things may develop. I thought it would be timely to give you an update on how it is envisaged that we as a Trade Association should approach the related challenges.

There will be many subjects to consider as we move towards a different relationship with both the European Union collectively and its member nations individually. Such is the length of time the UK has been a member of the EU, it is hardly surprising that Europe has been a significant element in setting regulations, and indeed visions, for the UK building services and construction sectors.  

At FETA we believe that in the post-EU landscape, trade associations can provide an even more vital line of communication with the rest of Europe on important issues such as energy use regulations and product design. FETA has been present at many meetings of European committees and pan-European associations to observe and to help shape some key directives and regulations that have impacted our sector. These include F Gas, Energy Labelling and Ecodesign, to name a few that we have dealt with over the years.

Regulations are not always greeted enthusiastically by business and industry, but FETA and its members recognise the general good intentions behind them. The emphasis on sustainability and environmental issues is important for us and future generations. Energy efficient products and buildings will help ensure we have security of energy supply in the years to come.

With this in mind, FETA feels that it is now very important for the UK Government to adopt a very cautious and measured approach to any changes in this legislative landscape. We recognise that there could be perceived superficial attractions in appearing to sweep away the unwanted bureaucracy of regulation. However, it is vital to think through the consequences to UK manufacturing, the construction sector and indeed ultimately the UK consumers.  

Many products used in UK buildings are manufactured elsewhere in Europe, and to require different standards for the UK market would only add to manufacturing costs and hence the price.  We do not want to see either consumers or businesses facing higher costs because our legislation does not keep in step with the rest of Europe. Departing from current EU-wide regulations such as Ecodesign and Energy Labelling will similarly cause complexities in trade arrangements where they are not needed.

From an environmental standpoint, the UK’s departure from the EU should not spell an end to the existing initiatives that encourage the uptake of renewable technologies. Schemes such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Enhanced Capital Allowance should be retained and promoted further. It is worth remembering that the UK’s target to cut CO2 emissions by 50 per cent of 1990 levels by the year 2025 is not set by the EU, but by the Committee for Climate Change.

Whatever happens in the coming years, staying abreast of developments in legislation across the EU will be very important to UK firms. Trade associations are well-placed to have a significant role in this. Having spent a long time establishing good relationships with technical committees in a number of fields, FETA is well-placed to maintain those connections.

Our objective, post-Brexit, is to ensure that member companies continue to have access to a flow of information on what is happening with regard to product design, refrigerant use or fan motors – or any of the other important technical issues that affect our manufacturer and installer memberships.

Even if the political landscape changes, UK companies will still need to have a voice in Brussels with regards to standards and regulations. Given that formal UK Governmental input to the EU bodies will cease it is more important than ever that Trade associations such as FETA can provide that voice, and continue to engender good relations with our counterparts. And with our connections to Government, organisations such as FETA are well-placed to give sound advice on what’s happening in the rest of Europe.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Wright
Chairman of FETA

1 August 2016

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