The EA Multilateral Agreement (MLA), signed so far by 42 EA Members, carried on growing and extending during 2018, when, notably, EA welcomed a new EA BLA signatory – our special congratulations to BSCA, the national accreditation body of Belarus.
Since 2017, EA has been working to pave the way for expanding the scope of the EA MLA for reference materials producers (RMP) according to ISO 17034. The first peer evaluations started in 2018 when the first two EA Members have been successfully evaluated for accreditation in the RMP field. Those two NABs will effectively become EA MLA signatories for RMP as soon as the EA MLA is launched for this scope in May 2019, provided that at least three members are successfully peer-evaluated by that date at the EA MLA Council (MAC) meeting.
The most striking development in 2018 is certainly the way how EA has succeeded in reinforcing the pool of EA peer evaluators to consolidate the peer evaluation process, which remains under constant improvement. EA’s organisation of several training activities, such as newcomer training sessions, has considerably improved evaluator resources: by end of 2018, the total number of EA evaluators has risen by 29% in comparison with 2017. Despite a constant number of peer evaluations performed in comparison with 2017, the total number of man-days allocated to these peer evaluations rose by nearly 30% compared to the previous year – which shows the significant increase in the total number of EA MLA scopes peer-evaluated in 2018.
EA has also increased its recognition of MLA scopes in IAF (International Accreditation Forum) and ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) in 2018. EA’s application to ILAC for extending the MRA signatory status to the scope “Reference Material Producers – ISO 17034” has notably been accepted by the ILAC Arrangement Management Committee. The decisions on EA’s peer evaluation by IAF/ILAC for extension of its MLA/MRA signatory status to accreditation of greenhouse gas (GHG) verification and validation bodies (ISO 14065) and proficiency testing providers (ISO/IEC 17043) have also been made in favour of both extensions in May 2018.
Moreover 2018 is a remarkable year since, after a major training effort performed in December 2017, we started to do peer evaluations against the revised ISO/IEC 17011: Conformity assessment – Requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies.
The strongest commitment of all those involved in the EA MLA system, i.e. members of the EA MAC and its Management Group, peer evaluation teams and trainers, and especially the MAC Secretariat, made the progress achieved in 2018 possible. I am very grateful 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.