The EA Multilateral Agreement (MLA), signed so far by 34 (out of 36) EA Full Members and half of 14 EA Associate Members, carried on growing and being refined during 2017.
The landmark in this strengthening is certainly twofold. First, EA launched its MLA for Proficiency Testing Providers (PTP) in 2017, when no less than 15 EA-Member national accreditation bodies (NABs) became signatories of the EA MLA for PTP accreditation against EN ISO/IEC 17043. Secondly, EA has been paving the way for expanding the scope of the EA MLA for Reference Materials Producers (RMP), which should be launched in April 2019. Meanwhile, harmonisation of practical issues related to peer evaluations supporting the launch of the EA MLA for RMP accreditation against EN ISO 17034 has been fostered in order for the first peer evaluations to be carried out in 2018.
Such development has been supported by several peer-evaluation activities. Nearly 20 peer evaluations were performed in 2017, when the total number of evaluation reports considered has more than doubled compared to the previous year. Peer-evaluation teams could refresh and sharpen their highly-specialised competences through several training sessions, and thus be enlarged to a total of about 150 evaluators by end of 2017.
Reinforcing the pool of EA peer evaluators proves of the utmost importance to consolidate the peer-evaluation process, which remains under constant improvement. The new IT tool designed to boost the efficiency of peer evaluations’ and evaluators’ management has been demonstrated in 2017 before being fully started in 2018. Moreover, the EA MLA Council’s project on reengineering the peer-evaluation system has been significantly progressed in 2017 with the aim to endorse an implementation plan in autumn 2018.
All these purposeful advances have been enabling EA to increase its recognition in IAF (International Accreditation Forum) and ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation), notably through their successful evaluation in 2017 for the extension of, respectively, EA’s MLA/MRA signatory status to accreditation of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Validation & Verification Bodies (EN ISO 14065) and PTP. Furthermore, in parallel with establishing the EA MLA for RMP, EA applied to ILAC for expanding EA’s MRA signatory status to RMP.
The major step forward achieved in 2017 is the fruit of strongest commitment of all those involved in the EA MLA system, i.e. members of the EA MLA Council (MAC) and its Management Group, the MAC Secretariat, peer-evaluation teams and trainers. I would like to thank them for their outstanding contribution to maintaining the EA MLA as a sustainable mechanism for ensuring both European and international reliable equivalence and mutual acceptance of certificates and reports issued by accredited conformity assessment bodies. May all of us keep on moving onwards in coming years!