For Conformity Assessment Bodies2018-12-12T09:12:26+00:00

What is accreditation?

Accreditation determines the technical competence, integrity and impartiality of organizations providing conformity assessment services such as testing, calibration, certification, and inspection based on international standards.

Accreditation is an impartial and objective process that provides the least duplicative, the most transparent and the most widely accepted route for providing trustworthy conformity assessment results.

Accreditation:

  • is the formal demonstration of Conformity Assessment Bodies’ competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks (EN ISO/IEC 17000 series);
  • is the independent and authoritative attestation of the competence, impartiality and integrity of Conformity Assessment Bodies;
  • is the “passport” for international trade based on multilateral agreements;
  • supports harmonization of conformity assessment procedures at worldwide level.

Benefits and value

When they are accredited, Conformity Assessment Bodies can benefit from:

  • better visibility on the market; EA and its National Accreditation Body Members publish directories of accredited organizations;
  • international recognition through the EA MLA (the multilateral agreement on mutual recognition between EA Members) which enables reports and certificates to be more readily accepted in overseas markets.

Accreditation is an effective marketing tool. It is a passport for submitting tenders to contractors that require independently verified organizations.

How accreditation works?

Accreditation is a process aiming to demonstrate compliance with specified requirements for competence, independence and impartiality:

  • Competence: experience and technical skills of the staff are verified by qualified assessors with relevant expertise and specialized knowledge;
  • Independence: Conformity Assessment Bodies that grant certificates or issue test reports for instance shall show independence from the organizations to which their services are provided, in terms of decision-making powers or economic and business relations for instance;
  • Impartiality: Conformity Assessment Bodies shall show absence of or properly manage potential conflicts of interest with the client to whom they provide services. For instance, they shall not share any commercial interests with their customers.

To ensure continued compliance, Conformity Assessment Bodies are regularly re-assessed to ensure they continuously:

  • keep pace with technical and regulatory changes in their area of expertise;
  • maintain their standards of work;
  • demonstrate practical competence and sound judgement.

FAQ

EA, the European cooperation 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 in Europe 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.

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.

To get more information, visit the “About EA” and “Mutual Recognition” pages.

Impartiality

In the field of accreditation, the impartiality rule requires that the Accreditation Body be impartial in making a decision on accreditation. It means that the AB shall not have any conflict of interest with the body applying for accreditation, and that the AB shall not be subject to any other pressure of a commercial or financial nature.

This is provided for in Article 8 of the European Commission’s Regulation (EC) 765/2008 relating to the “Requirements for NABs” which states “that a NAB shall be organized in such a manner as to make it independent of the CABs it assesses and of commercial pressures, and to ensure that no conflicts of interest with CABs occur.”

In practice, impartiality also means that the accreditation decision shall be made by persons different from those that conducted the assessment.

Non-profit-making principle

EA and its Accreditation Body Members shall be non-profit-making and -distributing organizations in order to meet their formal obligation to act in the public interest.

As such, accreditation must be operated under the following conditions:

  • at national level, with a recognized mandate from the government
  • with complete independence and impartiality
  • with full accountability towards all interested parties, with no single interest or group of interests predominating
  • as a non-profit-distributing service activity
  • without any competition

Cross-frontier accreditation

Cross-frontier accreditation refers to the principles for cooperation between EA Members in the accreditation process when accreditation is granted by a foreign Accreditation Body i.e. by an Accreditation Body that is not the local Accreditation Body.

According to Regulation 765/2008 and the EA Cross-Border Accreditation Policy and Procedure for Cross-Border Cooperation between EA Members (EA-2/13), each Accreditation Body should primarily provide services to its local market. However, in exceptional cases, an Accreditation Body may provide accreditation in a country or economy of another Accreditation Body. In such cases, the principle of the policy is to encourage cooperation between the foreign Accreditation Bodies and the local Accreditation Bodies, and to support local accreditation by offering the local Accreditation Bodies the opportunity to sub-contract, participate in a joint assessment or observe the assessment.

This lies in Article 7.1 of Regulation (EC) 765/2008 providing that Conformity Assessment Bodies, whether third-party or first-party/in-house bodies, are required to request accreditation by the National Accreditation Body of the Member State in which they are established.

This general rule allows for exceptions. The option for a Conformity Assessment Body to request accreditation with a National Accreditation Body in another Member State is limited to cases where:

  • there is no National Accreditation Body in its own Member State [Art. 7.1(a)]
  • the National Accreditation Body does not offer the requested accreditation service [Art. 7.1(b)]
  • the National Accreditation Body has not received a positive outcome in the peer evaluation in relation to the conformity assessment activity for which accreditation is requested [Article 7.1(c)]

Art. 7.1 Regulation (EC) 765/2008 is a logical consequence of the non-competition principle embodied in Article 6 of the same Regulation. It is important to prevent Conformity Assessment Bodies from shopping around for accreditation certificates, thus creating a “market for accreditation” leading to the commercialization of accreditation which jeopardizes the added value and role of accreditation as a public authority activity and last level of control in the conformity assessment chain.

Yes but under specific conditions.

According to Regulation 765 and EA-2/13 EA Cross-Border Accreditation Policy and Procedure for Cross-Border Cooperation between EA Members, each National Accreditation Body (NAB) should primarily provide services to its local market. However, in exceptional cases, a National Accreditation Body (NAB) may provide accreditation in a country or economy of another National Accreditation Body. In such cases, the principle of the policy is to encourage cooperation between the foreign National Accreditation Body (NAB) and the local National Accreditation Body, and to support local accreditation by offering the local Accreditation Body the opportunity to sub-contract, participate in a joint assessment or observe the assessment.

This lies in Article 7.1 of Regulation (EC) 765/2008 providing that Conformity Assessment Bodies, whether third-party or first-party/in-house bodies, are required to request accreditation by the National Accreditation Body of the Member State in which they are established.

This general rule allows for exceptions. The option for a Conformity Assessment Body to request accreditation with a NAB in another Member State is limited to cases where:

  • there is no NAB in its own Member State [Art. 7.1(a)]
  • the NAB does not offer the requested accreditation service [Art. 7.1(b)]
  • the NAB has not received a positive outcome in the peer evaluation in relation to the conformity assessment activity for which accreditation is requested [Article 7.1(c)]

Art. 7.1 Regulation (EC) 765/2008 is a consequence of the non-competition principle embodied in Article 6 of the same Regulation. It is important to prevent Conformity Assessment Bodies from shopping around for accreditation certificates, thus creating a “market for accreditation” leading to the commercialization of accreditation which jeopardizes the added value and role of accreditation as a public authority activity and last level of control in the conformity assessment chain.

EA does not accredit. It is an organization of National Accreditation Bodies (NAB) involved in the accreditation of laboratories and certification and inspection bodies. It is these Accreditation Bodies that accredit. EA assesses it Accreditation Body Members for them to become or remain a signatory to the EA MLA.

You should contact your National Accreditation Body to apply for accreditation.

To find the National Accreditation Body in your country, visit the “Directory of EA Members and MLA Signatories” page

EA offers training courses for its Members only.

EA National Accreditation Body (NAB) Members develop training programs. You can contact them directly or consult their websites.

To find the relevant National Accreditation Body, visit the “Directory of EA Members and MLA Signatories” page

Complaints and appeals received may concern decisions and activities of EA or EA Members, or Conformity Assessment Bodies accredited by EA Members.

All complaints must be addressed in writing in English to the EA Secretariat by email (secretariat@european-accreditation.org) or ground mail (European co-operation for Accreditation – 75 avenue Parmentier 75011 Paris – France).

EA considers all complaints and appeals as a possible opportunity to improve its services and implement corrective and preventive action measures.

For further information, read EA-1/17 S3 A: 2018 EA Procedure For the investigation and Resolution of Complaints and Appeals.

EA’s logo is not a registered trademark and cannot be used on reports or certificates.

Its use is restricted to EA itself, EA Accreditation Body Members and Recognized Stakeholder Members under specific conditions.

Rules for use of the EA logo are set out in EA-1/19 Rules for use of EA logo and Graphic specifications. If misuse is detected, EA is entitled to and will take appropriate action up to and including legal action.

EA encourages the use of its publications and communications materials.

EA’s publications and brochures may be printed or distributed in full without need for formal permission from EA.

Organizations seeking permission to translate EA publications must contact the EA Secretariat. The request for permission should clearly detail:

  • the EA publication, or part thereof, for which permission is sought;
  • where the translated material will appear and what it will be used for;
  • any other background information that may assist EA in granting permission.

The translated document must contain a statement acknowledging EA’s ownership and copyright.

For further details, contact Amandine Combe – Marketing & Communications Manager (amandine.combe@european-accreditation.org)