Sector schemes stimulate debate in EA
Both in and outside Europe, an increasing number of sector schemes are turning to accreditation as the most efficient way to establish confidence and develop broad recognition through MLA acceptance.
The EA Advisory Board has identified several technical and political issues related to sector schemes for consideration by an ad hoc task force group during 2011:
- how to contain the ongoing trend of proliferation of sector schemes;
- the need for harmonisation of requirements or specifications for designing sector-specific conformity assessment schemes at the European and international levels, and for their accreditation and acceptance under the European and international MLAs;
- the relationships between the international, European and national levels regarding the acceptance or refusal of a sector scheme under the relevant MLAs;
- the ways to promote transparency and a robust technical background to the sector schemes (to be based on clear, normative, publicly available specifications).
Within the EA Horizontal Harmonization Committee (HHC), the revision of EA-2/11: EA Policy for Relations with Sector Schemes is nearing completion. The document now provides a detailed process for analysing and deciding on acceptance of a scheme: after the collection of applications from scheme owners by the Secretariat, the EA HHC as the coordinating body would first evaluate the general cooperation principles and aspects at the ISO 17011 / NAB level, while the relevant technical committee would examine technical details at the relevant CAB standard’s and Conformity Assessment procedures’ levels. Namely sector schemes would be subject to a balanced and interactive examination jointly by the HHC and technical committees, and the HHC will prepare a recommendation to “accept” schemes for final decision by the General Assembly.It is proposed that an MoU would also be signed for every “accepted scheme” so as to formalise the relations and interaction between EA and scheme owners.