Accreditation practice to be further harmonised in Europe
A new document from the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) provides national accreditation bodies with an important tool in future. This is intended to advance the harmonisation of the accreditation practice in the legally regulated sector in Europe.
To this end the document EA-2/17 "EA Document on Accreditation for Notification Purposes" was revised and re-published. First and foremost, it is aimed at accreditation bodies and experts on the topic accreditation, however, it does not contain direct instructions for the work of conformity assessment bodies. Proposals for a Europe-wide, uniform application of standards and additional requirements for accreditations, make up the core of the text. These are to form the basis for the notification of a conformity assessment body.
Before adopting the new document, the EA had withdrawn the old version 2009 on the 34th General Meeting in Den Haag on 19th and 20th November 2014. The new document EA-2/17 now contains important information for conformity assessment bodies, for the national accreditation bodies and, in particular, for the notified bodies, if the issued accreditation is to form the basis for the identification according to the European Directives, the so-called "New Legislative Framework" (NLF). So, as it is already the case in the old version, all modules of the NFL are now listed in Annex B of the document (New Modules of Decision No 768/2008/EC) and set against the respective accreditation standards of the ISO/IEC 17000 series. This means that a comparison of the legal requirements stipulated by the EU Directive and the relevant conformity achieved by the selected standard is possible. Further, the potential accreditation standards and necessary additional requirements for the individual modules of the conformity assessment are now listed in Annex A, as they are laid down in the NLF. Thus the concept described by the EA as the "1+ approach" is published for the first time.
The new EA document thus contributes considerably to the process of harmonising accreditation in the legally regulated sector in Europe. On behalf of the European Commission, the EA will work to put the text into more concrete terms. The aim is also to achieve a procedure for all European ac-creditation bodies that is as uniform as possible.