Who are we?
EA, the European co-operation for Accreditation, is a not-for-profit association, registered in the Netherlands. It is formally appointed by the European Commission in Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 to develop and maintain a multilateral agreement of mutual recognition, the EA MLA, based on a harmonized accreditation infrastructure.
The EA MLA exists to facilitate fair trade, ensure product and service quality and reduce technical barriers to trade.
EA currently has 50 Members. The EA Members are National Accreditation Bodies (NAB) that are officially recognized by their national governments to assess and verify – against international standards – organizations that carry out conformity assessment activities such as certification, verification, inspection, testing and calibration.
Consumers, businesses and regulators all over the world want to be able to trust and have confidence in the goods and services they buy and use. As a consequence, there has been a growth in specified national and international standards for products, processes and services. When applied correctly, these can make life safer, healthier and easier for everyone and can enable communication and trade, while enabling resources to be used more efficiently.
Organizations that check conformity and compliance against standards must have the technical competence and integrity to carry out these assessment services. EA evaluates its National Accreditation Body (NAB) Members which assess certification and inspection bodies, testing, medical and calibration laboratories as well as validation and verification bodies .
If a Conformity Assessment Body is accredited by one of the Members in the EA network, its customers can have confidence in the competence, independence and impartiality of its conformity assessment work.
Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 and the standards of the ISO/IEC 17000 series provide the set of rules to be used by EA and its National Accreditation Bodies.
Why we exist
European citizens and consumers need to have confidence in the products and services they use in their everyday lives.
Industry needs easy access to internal, European and global markets to support business expansion.
European and national authorities need confidence in the bodies they have entrusted to perform control and assessment in order to enhance trade and economic growth.
Over the last few decades, the European market has developed considerably. This was supported by the role played by EA, its National Accreditation Body (NAB) Members and accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies.
Indeed, in Europe, a manufacturer can only place a product on the market once the product meets all the applicable requirements in terms of health and safety. Conformity Assessment Bodies have a key position as they assess the products before they are placed on the European – and global – market in order to ensure that the requirements are met and that consumers may trust those products
EA is the organization enabling National Accreditation Body (NAB) Members to share and build a common body of knowledge to develop a sound and harmonized approach to accreditation which is required to ensure that Conformity Assessment Bodies have the technical capacity to perform their task.
Cooperation with stakeholders
Involving interested parties has always been a priority and a commitment of the European co-operation for Accreditation. The objective is firstly to establish confidence, and secondly to enable parties interested in accreditation to put their views forward to EA.
It is important to highlight the considerable contribution that representatives from the various stakeholder groups make to the work of EA. They participate in all the EA technical committees.
The European Commission, through Regulation (EC) No 765/2008, establishes formal relations between EA, National Accreditation Bodies (NAB) and stakeholders. The EA Advisory Board shall be “the appropriate structure to ensure the effective and balanced involvement of all interested parties”, particularly to manage the increasing number of bodies wishing to become EA stakeholders.
EA-1/15 EA Policy for Relation with Stakeholders gives EA and its stakeholders the framework to maintain constructive and transparent cooperation through active participation in EA work.
Close relations with stakeholders help EA to ensure that accreditation remains connected to the market and reactive to technological, legislative and societal changes. It also creates a link enabling EA Members to adapt their accreditation services on a continuous basis, avoiding creating an unnecessary burden on Conformity Assessment Bodies and businesses.
According to this policy, a distinct ‘Recognized Stakeholder’ status with associated rights and obligations is granted to organizations that have a particular institutional interest in contributing to EA’s technical activities and wish to become more directly involved in EA’s associative life.
Recognized Stakeholders must be organizations or bodies, either private or public, with a distinct European or international role (in the latter case, predominantly that proactively contribute to European social and economic matters) and a clear interest in accreditation and conformity assessment activities. Associations, in particular, must have significant membership from the EU and EFTA Member States.
Applications for the Recognized Stakeholder status shall be sent to the EA Secretariat.
Private and public entities represented in the EAAB are treated as Recognized Stakeholders of right. If desired by the entity concerned, such treatment is maintained even after completion of the tenure on the Board.
Today, EA has 40 Recognized Stakeholders representing regulators, industry, Conformity Assessment Bodies, consumers and standardization and metrology organizations.
For the list of EA Recognized Stakeholders, read EA-INF/02: 2018 Contact Persons of EA Full and Associate Members, Recognized Stakeholders and Observers
European quality infrastructure
The Quality Infrastructure refers to the institutions, systems and methods that must be established, operated, used and trusted by the marketplace in order to ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and conform to functional and quality requirements.
National Quality Infrastructures (NQI) are adapted to the European Quality Infrastructure (EQI) through regulations and the action of the European co-operation for Accreditation. EA has a vital role applying and safeguarding sound European regulations and supporting its Members to develop in the international arena.
The institutions constituting the European Quality Infrastructure can be described as follows:
|Lawmakers and regulators issue laws and regulations, including technical regulations.|
|Regulations are based on standards, including technical standards, published by standardization organizations.|
|Standards and regulations contain requirements, including technical requirements and conformity assessment systems.|
|Conformity Assessment Bodies use standards to check and state compliance and conformity with standards.|
|National Accreditation Bodies (NAB) assess Conformity Assessment Bodies’ technical competence and impartiality to fulfill their tasks.|
Accreditation is the last level in the conformity assessment chain. It gives consumers, at the other end of the chain, confidence in the entire system and that the products they purchase and use are safe.
Supporting the chain, metrology organizations exist to provide the necessary technical reference for traceability to be ensured and therefore comparability of results to be possible.
For the implementation of the European Quality Infrastructure, EA cooperates closely with the European Standardization organizations (CEN-CENELEC and ETSI) and with the European Association of National Metrology Institutes EURAMET.
The European Quality Infrastructure shall contribute to provide trust in everyday life as well as societal benefits with more confident citizens, fair competition in the business sector and free trade of goods and services.