What impact will the UK’s decision to stay in Europe have on the firework industry?
It is a well-acknowledged fact that there are very mixed views on whether or not to stay in Europe, which will make for interesting reading when it comes time for the people in the UK make their feelings known in the ballot box.
The firework industry is on the cusp of a number of changes which have to be implemented to maintain our standing in Europe in the hopes of opening up the Global exportation of pyro overseas. It is however difficult for a member of the firework industry to really see the progress which is currently being made as we are already faced with uncertainty.
The introduction of the CE marking is going to have a massive impact on the industry which is hanging on for grim death as it is. The fascinating fact to my untrained eye is that whilst we acknowledge that having a generic marking system may make it easier for the rest of Europe it is going to have a huge impact on the economy of the UK. The testing of products for classification, for example, is likely to bring even more issues to the fore, particularly as the line between 1.4g and 1.3g appears to be so blurred. The testing used overseas is clearly sub-standard compared to the BS marking we all know and love.
In the UK the responsibility for testing for CE marking falls to the Health and Safety Executive in Derby. However, they then say that as they are dedicated pyro for fireworks only on their site, the question remains then, who is going to set the standard for the UK as a member state in relation to the classification of pyro?
By 2017 all products sold in the UK must be CE marked and whilst this may be a great idea, the testing has proven thus far to be a bit of a bone of contention. A year ago, the Dutch firework industry had their top bods in the equivalent of our HSE do the recommended testing. The result was that 75% of every product which went through testing to this ‘standard’ failed to reach requirement. The fireworks were frozen, baked and dropped from considerable heights during testing which with all due respect would imply that unless every single firework is testing to military ‘standard’, it is unlikely to receive the requisite pass.
The initial reaction is that as the UK has the best safety record in relation to fireworks on the market in the EU why then do we have to re-address this matter to comply with the EU to whom we will not be trading with?
Will the introduction of this legislation have the desired effect of regulating the number of non-compliant items on the market? Unlikely I would have thought as since the late 16th century there has been a fascination with pyro and despite the rigorous testing of items, the only items recalled last year were both from a single German manufacturer who curiously enough is the standard against which all others across Europe will be tested!!
The crux of the matter is, given that we are still no further forward in ensuring that we have a firework sales industry which we remain proud of with an Internationally recognised safety standard in place which with all due respect blows European standard out of the water.
I for one would like to see the UK out of Europe as whilst they share money with the UK for industrial development, we are still the main contributor. The fact is that in 2008 and independent commission investigated the monies contributed and whilst on paper, the net cost was stated as being £10.8 billion the reality was actually nearer to £65 billion thanks to the additional costs of EU compliance and we have only just started so where does this end? With Europe still sticking with the idyll that this is actually of benefit, Britain continues to struggle how long will we continue in Europe?