Thomas Facklam chaired his last EA General Assembly

The 40th EA General Assembly (GA) meeting held on 22-23 November 2017 in Berlin, Germany, was the last one chaired by Thomas Facklam, whose chairmanship of EA is coming to a close at the end of this year.

EA Members paid Thomas great and warm tribute for his outstanding contribution to the everyday activities and success of EA. Thomas has been serving various positions in the EA Executive Committee for 17 years: first, he was the Vice-Chairman of EA from 2000 to 2005, then the Chair of the EA Multilateral Agreement Council (MAC) from 2010 to 2013, and finally the Chairman of EA from 2014 to 2017. 

During the EAGA meeting, Hans Ingels from the European Commission DG GROW expressed his personal satisfaction for the successful collaboration that could develop with EA during Thomas mandate: “Thomas has brought a strong contribution to the professionalization of EA by developing, among other things, a closer cooperation with the European Commission and placing EA as a key player in a global network. Everyone in the Commission who met with Thomas shares the opinion that he is an outstanding Chair, particularly most efficient in promoting accreditation in the single market. Thomas smile is famous; Thomas is always so convincing that it is difficult to say “no” to him! Accreditation means working with and for people, and that is very well carried on by Thomas, who has always been marking himself out by his tolerance, kindness, smartness and honesty.”

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Presentation of EA Strategy 2025 and core values by Peter Strömbäck at the 40th EA General Assembly

Peter Strömbäck, the new EA Chair from January 2018, came back on the EA Strategy during the 40th EA General Assembly, (Berlin / 22-23 November) outlining the meaning of EA core values which form the basis to reach the EA desired position in 2025.

A project team, led by Peter Strömbäck (CEO of SWEDAC, the Swedish NAB), was constituted in 2016 to build a long-term strategy for EA to be a reference for accreditation in the world, that enables an open and global market for competitive business, and provides reassurance to consumers in a sustainable society. To achieve this vision, 3 strategic objectives with supporting core values have been defined to support the implementation of our strategy, enabling the membership organization to speak with one voice and reach the desired position 2025. 

EA’s core values highlight the expected behaviors and skills on which all work of EA is based to support the implementation of the strategy and to reach our desired position. “EA core values will be the most important guide for us, it will point out the directions where we have to go and in the best way” said Peter Strömbäck during this presentation, “our common core values will help us to develop EA from Good to Great”.

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Publication of the revised ISO/IEC 17025

ISO/IEC 17025:2017 specifies requirements for the competence, consistent operation and impartiality of accreditation bodies assessing and accrediting conformity assessment bodies.

This standard enables laboratories to demonstrate that they operate competently and generate valid results, thereby promoting confidence in their work both nationally and internationally. It facilitates cooperation between laboratories and other bodies by generating wider acceptance of results between countries, avoiding the need for further testing.

Since February 2015, the Working Group 44 of CASCO in charge of the revision have regularly met to elaborate the new document to adapt to the changes of market conditions and technology. EA was represented by two representatives, Trevor Thomson, from UKAS, the British NAB, and Laurent Vinson, from COFRAC, the French NAB, respectively Vice Chair and Chair of the EA Laboratory Committee.

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EA organized 2 Peer Evaluator refresher trainings in December

In December (6-7 and 14-15), RvA, the Dutch NAB, hosted two Refresher Workshops for Peer Evaluation Team Leaders and Team Members focused on the new ISO/IEC 17011:2017 and related harmonization issues.

These 2-days training sessions gathered a total of 40 participants from 24 national accreditation bodies (NABs) and were co-convened by Ed Wieles (RvA, the Dutch NAB), Paulo Tavares (IPAC, the Portuguese NAB and MLA Council Chair) and Rob Bettinson (UKAS, the UK NAB).

One of the objectives was to update the EA Evaluators on the specifics of the new ISO/IEC 17011:2017 focusing on the following subjects:

  • Changes in ISO/IEC 17011:2017 and the impact for the peer evaluations (including the new evaluation document ILAC/IAF A3 IAF/ILAC Multi-Lateral Recognition Arrangements: narrative framework for reporting on the performance of an accreditation body – a tool for the evaluation process);
  • Transition procedures for ISO/IEC 17011:2017 established by IAF/ILAC and EA, in particular the decision that all peer evaluations will be conducted to the new version from 1st July 2018, and the mechanism set up for those ABs which would not be in a position to have a peer evaluation completed before the transition deadline (30th November 2020);
  • Evaluation of the implementation of IAF-MD20 (Generic Competence for AB Assessors).

After a round of FAQs based on feedback from the MAC & NABs, discussions concentrated on cases derived from real evaluations and issues raised by participants. “The training provided a good opportunity to review and discuss the changes in the new ISO/IEC 17011: 2017 standard with fellow Peer Evaluators and those involved in the development and management of the evaluation process. It was also helpful as it enabled the attendees to highlight areas where clarifications and additional guidance may be required to achieve harmonization. The material provided was clear and included other useful updates in the peer evaluation process” declares Steve Randal, TL participant from UKAS.

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Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation signed between NAH and ATS

On 14 and 15 December 2017, ATS, the Serbian NAB, and NAH, the Hungarian NAB, met in a two-day meeting in Serbia.

During the bilateral consultation held on 14 December, the results achieved by the two organizations were presented and the plans for the future were also discussed by the participants.

The central topic of the meeting was to define the possible fields of cooperation aimed to facilitate and develop trading and economic relations between Hungary and Serbia through the gradual reduction of technical barriers.

At the end of the meeting, the Director-General of NAH and the Acting Director of ATS, Prof. Aco Janicijevic signed a Memorandum of Understanding. 

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ALGERAC celebrated the signature of its EA BLA and ILAC MRA

On the 13th December, ALGERAC, the Algerian NAB, organized in Alger (Algeria) an event to celebrate the successful outcome of ALGERAC peer evaluation.

Indeed, the EA MLA Council decided on the 5th October 2017 to accept ALGERAC as a signatory to the EA MLA through a Bilateral Agreement (EA BLA) and on the 30th October 2017, ILAC decided to give ALGERAC MRA Signatory status for Calibration (ISO/IEC 17025), Testing (ISO/IEC 17025) and Inspection (ISO/IEC 17020).

The ceremony was organized under the patronage of the Algerian Ministry of Industry and gathered 260 guests from the main Algerian authorities and economic actors in Algeria: Ministries of Commerce, Agriculture, Health, Construction, but also representatives of Chambers of Commerce and members of ALGERAC Board, committees and staff.

It started with an introductory speech of Noureddine Boudissa, General Secretary of ALGERAC. Thomas Facklam, Chair of EA, wanted to attend the ceremony and congratulated ALGERAC for their success and recent signature of the EA MLA while Merih Malmqvist Nilsson, ILAC Chair, remotely also expressed her congratulations to our colleague through a broadcasted video.

These recognitions by EA and ILAC constitute a major milestone for ALGERAC and Algeria. They celebrate the efforts made by ALGERAC since its creation in 2005 to develop a strong accreditation system in Algeria and demonstrate how accreditation is an efficient and reliable tool for regulators and national authorities to implement reliable regulation, enhance trade and support economic growth.

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ESCO project: EA participates in a meeting to highlight the benefits of accreditedresults for certification of persons

Two members of EA Executive Committee, Emanuele Riva (ACCREDIA, the Italian NAB) and Ignacio Pina (ENAC, the Spanish NAB), the EA Vice Chair, attended a meeting in Brussels, regarding ESCO, a project managed by the European Commission, as part of the Europe 2020 strategy.

ESCO is the multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations, relevant for the EU labor market and education and training. It systematically shows the relationships between the different concepts.

ESCO is structured in 3 pillars:

  • Occupations: 2942 occupations are already mapped in ESCO (on the basis of ISCO-08 code). Each occupation also comes with an occupational profile. The profiles contain an explanation of the occupation in the form of description, scope note and definition. Furthermore, they list the knowledge, skills and competences that experts considered relevant terminology for this occupation on a European scale.
  • Skills / Competences: 13485 skills / competences are already mapped in ESCO. This includes an explanation of the concept in the form of description, scope note and definition, highlighting also their relationship with occupations.
  • Qualifications: so far ESCO has collected 2414 qualifications (namely those concepts gathered from Latvia and Greece). Qualifications are the formal outcome of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards. Qualifications displayed in ESCO come from databases of national qualifications that are owned and managed by the European Member States. Member States provide this information to ESCO on a voluntary basis. It therefore depends on each Member State to ensure information on its qualifications in ESCO is available, complete, correct and up-to-date.

For the Qualification pillars, the European Commission also envisages integrating private, international and sectorial qualifications from other sources into ESCO in the near future. This process is called "direct inclusion".

EA presented its activities and the benefits of accreditation to guarantee competence and confidence in accredited bodies performing conformity assessment services such as Certifications of persons (welders, IT expert, auditors, data protection officers etc).

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Agreement on Commission proposal to tighten rules for safer and cleaner cars

On 7 December 2017, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement on a major overhaul of the EU type-approval framework for motor vehicles.

Prior to the Volkswagen revelations in September 2015, the Commission concluded on the need to prevent cases of non-compliance by proposing a new regulation to make vehicle testing more independent and reliable and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation.

The main building blocks of the new rules are:

  • Raise the quality level and independence of type-approval and testing before a car is placed on the market;
  • Increase checks of cars that are already on the EU market;
  • Carry out market checks independently from Member States to initiate EU-wide recalls;
  • Recognition of the Accreditation of Technical Services in accordance with Regulation (EC)765/2008 as an alternative to peer evaluations by Type Approval Authorities.

Accreditation is the tool to demonstrate impartiality and technical competence of Conformity Assessment Bodies. By relying on accredited Inspection Bodies and Technical Services, regulators and governments limit cost and resources, avoiding the use of their own personnel and the duplication of audits, obtaining a conformity assessment based on technical competence and impartiality providing objective results to support sound decisions in regulation, public procurement or delivery of products or services onto the market.

EA, through the Technical Network “Car Inspection” of the Inspection Committee, cooperates regularly with the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee (CITA) for issues such as the development of a more efficient Periodical Vehicle Inspection (PTI) accreditation scheme. The objective of this collaboration is to develop branch specific interpretations of requirements in ISO/IEC 17020 and ensure that Member States continue to rely on accreditation and that new Member States will join. To respond to these objectives, it was decided, during the last EAIC meeting to create a TFG to reinforce the EA /CITA collaboration in 2018.

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Feedback from the last meeting of the EA Working Group in the Health Care Sector Laboratory Medicine

The Working Group Health Care from the Laboratory Committee held a meeting, hosted by ESYD, the Hellenic NAB, on the 28 & 29 November 2017, at Thessaloniki.

This meeting was attended by 33 representatives of EA members from 22 countries, as well as with representatives of European Scientific Associations such as European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM), MedTech Europe, EuroGentest.

The WG Health Care discussed inter alia the following issues:

  • Situation of health care, medical laboratories and the use of accreditation in Greece
  • Point of Care testing POCT: Application of ISO 15189 in combination with ISO 22870
  • Breast Cancer Services (BCS): Accreditation of “pathology” laboratories
  • Report from RENAR (National Accreditation Body of Romania) about the requirements of ISO 15189, clause 5.10 Laboratory Information Management System
  • New regulation on IvD (in vitro diagnostic medical devices) and the impact on medical laboratories
  • Collaboration between EA and EFI (European Federation for Immunogenetics)
  • New standard ISO/DIS 20387 – Biotechnology – Biobanking – General requirements for biobanking

During that meeting, Ms Aliki Stathopoulou, Head of the Testing and Clinical Laboratories Accreditation Department of the Laboratories Accreditation Division of ESYD, was elected Vice-Chair of the working group.

The next meeting of EA WG Health Care will be hosted by NAH, the Hungarian NAB in June 2018 in Budapest.

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Accreditation: supporting the needs of global regulators

Global arrangements through ILAC and IAF underpin the international acceptance of traded products. Through accredited sources, economic operators can demonstrate that their products meet market requirements so that market operators can use these products with confidence. This system also enables governments to regulate products in the knowledge that the market will have the means of meeting both voluntary and regulatory requirements in a transparent way.

Independent accredited conformity assessment of certification, testing, calibration and inspection services provides an essential tool that can be used by the public sector to meet policy objectives. Jointly developed by IAF/ILAC/ISO/ IEC/IIOC, Public Sector Assurance showcases how accredited conformity assessment is used around the world by central government, local government and regulators to deliver positive benefit. It features case studies that illustrate the value of accreditation to government officials and regulators in delivering results in key policy areas. It also provides independent research and supporting information which demonstrates the tangible benefits of conformity assessment to the public sector. 

Click here to read more information about the benefits of using accredited conformity assessment

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