The very first peer-evaluations of EA NABs for accreditation of proficiency testing providers will be starting in April 2016, until when potential evaluation team members are being identified by the EA MAC Secretariat.

[Picture by Dieter Schütz.]

Further to EA Resolution 2012 (30) 17 adopted in November 2012 by the EA General Assembly which endorsed a new work item to establish accreditation of proficiency testing providers (PTP) as a new Level 2 activity under the EA MLA, a detailed road map was defined by both the EA Multilateral Agreement Council (MAC) and Laboratory Committee (LC) to ensure a successful extension of the EA MLA to accreditation against ISO/IEC 17043.

An ad hoc TFG was set up in the EA LC to appraise the needs for a guidance document and training activity on the implementation of ISO/IEC 17043. It was concluded that the standard was clear enough to be applied with no specific guidance. However it was agreed, as reported in the EA LC Work Plan for 2015, that EA should organise a training course to harmonize the understanding and use of ISO/IEC 17043:2010 General Requirements for Proficiency Testing among EA national accreditation bodies (NABs).

EA training on ISO/IEC 17043 in February 2016

This train-the-trainer course will be hosted by UKAS, the UK NAB, on 17-18 February 2016 and provided by Debbie Hudson from UKAS and Martina Bednarova from CAI, the Czech NAB. The training is targeted, as a priority, at potential EA peer-evaluators in the PTP field and representatives from those NABs scheduled to have a peer-evaluation in 2016 (and possibly 2017) that have declared that they want this to include PTP accreditation.

In 2016, a total of 11 regular and 7 extension peer-evaluations will cover PTP activities in accordance with the provisions set out in EA-2/02: 2011 EA Policy and Procedures for the Multilateral Agreement.

The peer-evaluations of applicant EA NABs for signing the EA MLA for PTP accreditation will begin in April 2016.

The first decisions on signatures of the EA MLA for PTP accreditation are expected to be made by the EA MAC in April 2017 at the latest.

These signatures will concretely make the EA MLA ready for any move at the international level to start an international agreement. With the EA and APLAC (Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) mutual agreements in place respectively in Europe and Asia Pacific, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) could indeed establish its international Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) in the field. The EA and APLAC signatories, provided that they are ILAC-member accreditation bodies, would then automatically benefit from an international recognition. This would mean international recognition of accredited PTP activities.