Feedback of the 20th Meeting of EA Horizontal Harmonization Committee

2018-11-22T15:08:22+00:00October 19th, 2018|General Assembly / Committees|

The meeting, held on 18-19 September 2018 in Brussels, gathered 51 participants from 38 National Accreditation Bodies, including SCC, the Standards Council of Canada, and stakeholders’ organizations (CEOC International, IOCC and EUROLAB).

Good progress was reported on the ongoing revision of 5 publications under HHC responsibility. How to apply the One Voice strategic objective in HHC work was at the heart of all the discussions during the 2-days meeting.

A number of topics were discussed in order to deal with horizontal technical issues concerning conformity assessment bodies, assessment of notified bodies and evaluation of conformity assessment (sector) schemes:

Management of HHC: after the election of Sjaak Hendriks, from RvA (The Netherlands) as HHC Vice Chair in March 2018, a new process for dealing with Members questions and managing HHC FAQ list was proposed. The objective is to maintain a list of simple and clear questions and agreed answers. IPAC (Portugal), UKAS (UK), PCA (Poland) and COFRAC (France) volunteered to contribute to review questions and prepare answers with the Chair and Vice Chair.

Implementation of “One Voice Concept”: during the March 2018 meeting, a draft document, EA-1/23 Policy to speak with One Voice, for a policy and mechanism to feedback issues for harmonization, was submitted to HHC. In essence, the document mentions that there are already a number of tools available supporting the implementation of the “One voice” approach but that tools are missing in the non-regulated area with voluntary schemes and should be developed. A proposition was made to set up a review group with the chairs of EA Technical Committees to analyze situations of differentiating level 3 and 4 standards. Finally, the revised draft of the Policy was endorsed and will be circulated for EA comments for the regular 2-months period starting in early October.

Develop a process for the management of existing accreditation areas and schemes: A document coming from one of the Strategy TFGs on the importance for EA to follow up and wherever possible anticipate or take action as early as possible in the process or discussions about development of accreditation in new areas was discussed. HHC acknowledged that EA-1/23 Policy to speak with One Voice will address the issue of existing accreditation areas. How to do with new areas remains to be considered and a process to be designed. HHC supported that efforts should concentrate on schemes operating at level 3 or 4 of the MLA and not below, the number of potential schemes concerned being far too important. Members also agreed to run the proposed survey among all National Accreditation Bodies and the EA Advisory Board in order to identify and receive information on areas with (potentially) differentiating level 3 and 4. The issue will be revisited in March 2019 taking into account the proposal made by IPAC on a policy for starting accreditation in new schemes at level 3 or 4 and supported by HHC.

Revision of EA-2/13 publication: revision of the document continues. The document describes EA’s policy and procedures for cooperation between national accreditation bodies when accreditation is provided by a national accreditation body to a conformity assessment body which has locations in another country in the EA region or has conformity assessment activities in another country in the EA region. It also describes the procedures to be followed by EA members concerning accreditation in another country under the conditions of European Regulation (EC) 765/2008 article 6 part 3 (also called cross border accreditation). After discussion, HHC members agreed that the TFG revised draft is ready to go out for HHC comments for 2 months.

Revision of EA-3/01 EA Conditions for the use of Accreditation symbols, text reference to accreditation and reference to EA MLA Signatory status: 5 questions arose in the TFG in charge during the review of the document on the use of:

  • accreditation symbols by CABs.
  • accreditation standard together with the NAB symbol
  • text reference or accreditation symbol to identify an accredited report/certificate
  • labels by Reference Material Producers (RMP) or Proficiency Testing Providers (PTP)
  • more than one accreditation symbol on reports/certificates

It appeared that feedback from HHC on those 5 open points would be very useful for the revision to progress properly Therefore HHC agreed to launch a call for comments. The comments collected will be used to complete the revision of EA-3/01. The next draft will also address the question of conditions for use of the EA MLA mark, based on ILAC set of rules on how to use the ILAC MRA mark. The TFG final draft would be ready for discussion and HHC approval in March 2019 before EA voting. The design of the future EA MLA mark will be developed in the Secretariat with CPC. The license agreement for use of the MLA mark will be worked out at the secretariat and EX level.

Revision of EA-2/15 EA Requirements for the Accreditation of Flexible Scopes: HHC agreed that TFG should continue the revision work by developing one general set of rules for flexible scope accreditation, without adding examples. TFG will finalize the draft presented at the meeting and it will be circulated for HHC comment in early October for 2 months.

Proposal of Guidance for validation of conformity assessment schemes: the document is intended to provide a common understanding of the principles and processes for validation of conformity assessment schemes (CAS) and thus to contribute to harmonizing accreditation body’s approach towards the evaluation of CAS. HHC confirmed that the document would be for HHC internal use only, published on the intranet HHC CA Schemes dedicated folder. It will contain guidance on the provisions set out in EA-1/22 about validation. The new draft will be reviewed to include a disclaimer to clarify the purpose and status and circulated for HHC comments for 2 months.

ILAC/IAF liaison: HHC was informed that revision of ILAC G3:08/2012 Guidelines for Training Courses for Assessors Used by Accreditation Bodies is ongoing. It was reported that the objective is to merge ILAC G11:07/2006 ILAC Guidelines on Qualifications & Competence of Assessors and Technical Experts and G3. The work is managed at the ILAC/IAF A series WG level; the WG convenor is Thomas Facklam (DAkkS). HHC members are asked to look for possible nominations from their NAB to contribute to the work in support of Thomas and Orbay Evrensevdi, the TURKAK representative in the WG. Again with a view to promote an EA One Voice, a review of ILAC/IAF Committees was also done and resulted in the identification of priority liaison development with the following committees: ILAC AIC (Accreditation Committee), Joint WG on A series, ILAC ARC (Arrangement Committee), IAF TC (Technical Committee) and IAF MLAC (MLA Committee). In all those committees, HHC representatives will have to follow up discussions and point to HHC all relevant issues of interest for EA requiring specific discussion in EA.

Breakout session on ISO/IEC 17011: As a follow up of the March workshop on the new version of the standard, a 2-hours breakout session was organized during the 1st meeting day. The objective was to review the key topics highlighted in March as areas to be considered for harmonization, and agree how to treat them in future. Several options were proposed ranging from “to be listed on HHC Work list” to “Requiring developing a document”.

The next HHC meeting will be on the 12-13 March 2019 in Brussels (Belgium).