The EA-RusAccreditation cooperation project aimed at approximating the accreditation systems of the Russian Federation and the European Union for the benefit of mutual recognition and trade closed with a conference on 4 December 2015 in Moscow, Russia.

European exporters and Russian importers face difficulties in mutual trade due to application of different conformity assessment standards and requirements. Started in January 2013, the 3-year cooperation project between EA and RusAccreditation called “Approximation of EA and Russian Federation accreditation systems”, aimed to support increasing trade between the European Union (EU) and Russian Federation (RF) through modernising and aligning Russia’s technical regulation system and related infrastructure of standardisation, conformity assessment, accreditation, market surveillance to the EU system.

RusAccreditation’s expectations

Empowered by the Russian government in 2011, RusAccreditation was established to reform and unify the former Russian accreditation system consisting of 16 different systems and 9 agencies scattered throughout the federal districts.

A centralized independent accreditation system without competition and complying with the international standards should b established to enable the Russian accreditation system to join the European and international multilateral recognition agreements. RusAccreditation signed bilateral and multi-lateral memorandums of understanding with several other accreditation bodies, and became an Associate Member of ILAC in May 2013.

Today RusAccreditation’s staff comprises 141 persons in its central office in Moscow and a total of 110 persons in its territorial branches in the various federal districts. More than 500 accreditation experts are attested and recruited by RusAccreditation.

EA’s experience used for legal and capacity-building achievements

In a first stage, EA experts coming from the German (DAkkS) and Greek (ESYD) national accreditation bodies, shared their experience and best practice to evaluate the situation in Russia by analysing the legislative framework and technical processes of the Russian management and accreditation systems through performing evaluation of Russian conformity assessment bodies. The project led to EA’s recommendations on how to improve the legal basis and technical elements of the Russian accreditation system in order for it to comply with European and international standards and requirements.

The project has succeeded in convincing the responsible rapporteur to the Duma related to the new accreditation legislation that different changes were needed to reach compatibility with the requirements for accreditation defined in the ISO/IEC 17000 series of standards and, even more important, to observe the requirements defined in Regulation (EC) 765/200 and the EA requirements. The Russian accreditation law has been modified to allow the setting-up of one single independent, non-profit and competition-free national accreditation body in Russia. The legal documents establishing RusAccreditation do fulfil the provisions set out in Regulation (EC) 765/2008. The RF’s accreditation law has been revised to allow for a full approximation of the different accreditation systems, i.e. EA fulfilled the task of the project as well as its duty to export the European accreditation idea to other regions.

The initial structure of RusAccreditation, which relied upon competent expert organizations as subcontractors to provide assessments, has also been changed: RusAccreditation is now fully responsible for both internal and external assessors, while expert organizations provide administrative support only. RusAccreditation’s internal organization has not been completed yet (the management system is still in development), but RusAccreditation is operational based on the existing rules. Likewise the use of verification bodies for ensuring traceability should be clarified.

In a second stage, several extensive awareness-raising campaigns were organised to promote the new approach among the government, industry and conformity assessment bodies in various regions of Russia. Two outstanding round tables held with stakeholders in Moscow showed most lively and high-level discussions.

Training activities were also performed to support the implementation of the modified system. Active trainings on the key international conformity assessment standards of the ISO/IEC 17000 series were notably provided by EA experts as train-the-trainer programs to largely disseminate acquired knowledge among assessors. These trainings included concrete analysis of the text of the standards, discussion of related technical issues as well as consideration of case studies and best practice of EA-Member national accreditation bodies. How these trainings will bear fruit will be demonstrated beyond the project closing in December 2015.

Building now upon the Approximation Project

The 59 participants in the 4 December closing conference led by Thomas Facklam, the EA Chairman and project director, Geir Samuelsen, the EA Vice-Chair, Savva Shipov, the Head of RusAccreditation and Oleg Fomichev, the State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, expressed their satisfaction with the results of the project. EA’s contribution to the project organisation and implementation was highly appreciated by RusAccreditation. The head of the EU delegation to the RF in Moscow declared before the closing conference, which he could not attend, that it happened not so often that the result of a project could clearly be the basis for future development.

Please read the news on the closing conference published on RusAccreditation’s website.

RusAccreditation has already applied for APLAC membership with a view to be peer-evaluated by APLAC for the laboratory and possibly inspection scopes; this should enable RusAccreditation to become a signatory to the ILAC MRA by 2016-17. The APLAC membership would also allow RusAccreditation experts to attend EA trainings according to the EA-APLAC agreement, thus sustaining closer relations with EA.

Thanks to the now approximated Russian and European accreditation systems, it might also be possible, upon requests by the EU and RF, that EA carries out a peer-evaluation of RusAccreditation to confirm compliance with Regulation (EC) 765/2008 and additional EA requirements. To this end, EA would need to adjust its rules further to the European Commission’s request.

Moreover, because RusAccreditation has a strong and clear leadership of how to develop with motivated staff and assessors, it could take advantage of a follow-up project to go further into the certification field and, especially, into the European regulated field defined by European directives and regulations in order to be able to accept conformity assessment results in the regulated sector as well.

Future prospects

For RusAccreditation to help develop a new region to join ILAC/IAF, EA is ready to further cooperate and assist in:
– formulating a vision which reflects common views, interest and objectives;
– establishing a permanent secretariat with technical and administrative skills, supported by efficient IT processes;
– working out an active and properly-resourced communication and promotion plan;
– establishing close links with other regions to share experience and then avoid duplicated work.

The EA Secretariat will be pleased to exchange experience, documentation and processes, to propose training or benchmarking activities and to establish cooperation for specific issues.