Enhancing stakeholder involvement in EA Certification Committee discussions
The 23rd Meeting of the EA Certification Committee (CC) took place on 14 and 15 February 2012 in Sofia, Bulgaria, with the first day dedicated to a preparatory meeting with EA-member ABs. As usual, the second day was opened to stakeholder organizations such as CEOC International, Eurolab, EFAC, IIOC and EOQ.
The EA CC includes a “Review Panel” which is an expert group in charge of giving preliminary responses to questions about accreditation raised by CC Members and discussed at each CC preparatory meeting. At its last meeting, the EA CC confirmed that the composition of the Review Panel should include one stakeholder representative in order to increase transparency, avoid duplication of discussions and improve preparation of IAF discussions. Trevor Nash from the European Federation of Associations of Certification bodies (EFAC) has agreed to participate in the next preliminary discussion round of the Review Panel on the questions asked by CC Members for the next EA CC preparatory meeting in September 2012.
Each EA technical committee manages a “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) compilation document which puts together all questions and issues raised on accreditation by the committee’s members and answered at the committee’s successive meetings. As they were started several years ago, the CC FAQs are regularly updated when standards are revised. Similarly it was agreed that this work should be done by the CC Review Panel in cooperation with stakeholders before further discussion and final validation by the EA CC. The FAQs format and accessibility will also be improved for a wider use and publication.
At the European level
A new Working Group for the Accreditation of GHG Verifiers has been set up within the EA CC to meet the European Commission (EC)’s expectation to have a formal network established between EA-member ABs, so as to improve European harmonization of accreditation in the field of greenhouse gas emissions. The two new Monitoring & Reporting (M&R) and Accreditation & Verification (A&V) Regulations were adopted by the EC Climate Change Committee in December 2011, and are expected to be approved by the European Parliament and Council by May 2012. Both regulations apply from 1 January 2013. The terms of reference of the WG have been drafted and approved by the EA Executive Committee in March 2012.
Following the anticipated approval by the EA General Assembly in May 2012, the first task of the EA CC WG for Accreditation of GHG Verifiers will involve revising EA-6/03: EA Document for Recognition of Verifiers under the EU ETS (Emissions Trading System)Directive. The revised document will support a harmonised interpretation and approach to the accreditation of verification bodies according to ISO 14065 and the A&V Regulation. It is intended to be used by accreditation and verification bodies in the process of accreditation for verification of emissions and data in the EU ETS scheme.
The mandatory EA document for implementation of the EU Organic Farming Regulation is still to be circulated among both the CC membership and the EA community for comments. This simultaneous circulation in necessary as the document is urgently needed in the EA CC and for the EA General Assembly.
European and international standardisation
After having been approved by the EA General Assembly in November 2011, the revision of EA-6/02: EA Guidelines on the Use of EN 45011 and ISO/IEC 17021 for certification to EN ISO 3834, building upon the outcome of the workshop jointly organized by EA and the European Welding Foundation (EWF) in December 2010, has started with the establishment of an equally EA-EWF composed TFG and a first, physical meeting in March 2012. Online meetings will follow. The revised document is expected for the September meeting.
ISO/IEC 27006: 2011 was reveiwed at the last CC meeting at which it was noted that the transition period will end on 1 February 2013. The EA CC will put forward a recommendation to the EA General Assembly in May 2012 so that EA ABs finish the implementation of the new version of 27006 in accordance with the transition period agreed for ISO/IEC 17021:2011.
Guidance work in the pipeline
Approved by the EA General Assembly in November 2011, the drafting of an EA harmonization guidance on the application of ISO/IEC 17021:2011 for OHSAS 18001 is progressing. An initial draft should be presented by TFG OHSAS at the EA CC autumn meeting.
The elaboration of a mandatory guidance document on witnessing practices for management system certification has been progressing through several online meetings organized by the EA Secretariat. Because it proved difficult to find compromises between very large national discrepancies, a cluster approach has been utilised by TFG Witnessing which was given the green light to go ahead with drafting the document. The EA CC also decided that specific witnessing for OHSAS should be discussed by TFG OHSAS in order for the outcome to be integrated into the witnessing document as an added value.
New training planned in 2012
The EA CC will reiterate the positive and fruitful experience of 2011 training on ISO/IEC 17021 and 14065 and organise a training session on ISO/IEC 17024 in 2012. Since the revised standard is expected to come out in June, the training is planned on 24-25 September and 29-30 October 2012. Two back-to-back 1.5-day sessions will be hosted by ACCREDIA, the Italian NAB, in Milan.
The arrangements of a training course on ISO/IEC 17065 in 2013 should be finalized at the next CC meeting to be held on 11 and 12 September 2012 in Helsinki, Finland.