The EA Multilateral Agreement (EA MLA) is a signed agreement between the EA Members whereby the signatories recognize and accept the equivalence of the accreditation systems operated by the signing members, and also the reliability of the conformity assessment results provided by Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) accredited by the signing members. It makes the objective ‘Accredited once, accepted everywhere’ effective.
Acceptance in the marketplace of the EA MLA and thereby of conformity assessment results provided by CABs accredited by EA MLA signatories is of major importance for the internal market in Europe in facilitating cross border trade as well as in demonstrating compliance with European legislation for products and services contributing to protect health, safety and the environment.
The EA MLA is signed between the EA Full Members. A Bilateral Agreement (BLA) between an EA Associate Member and EA has the same purpose and bilateral signatories to the EA MLA shall meet the same requirements as EA Full Members.
Regulation (EC) No 765/2008
National authorities shall recognize the equivalence of the services delivered by those National Accreditation Bodies (NAB) which have successfully undergone EA peer evaluation (EA MLA signatories) and thereby accept the accreditation certificates of those bodies and the attestations issued by the Conformity Assessment Bodies accredited by them.
How to ensure that your certificate or test report is acceptable
The mark of an EA MLA signatory on certificates and reports issued by accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies acts as a “passport to trade”. The confidence this accreditation brings eliminates the need for suppliers to be certified in each country in which they sell their products or services, and therefore provides the framework for goods and services to cross borders in Europe and throughout the world.
|Five steps to check the reliability
of a certificate or a report:
|1||Check that there is an accreditation mark on the report or certificate.|
|2||Check that the accreditation mark is of a National Accreditation Body (NAB) signatory to the EA, ILAC or IAF MLA.|
|3||Check that your supplier is accredited for the competence, the tests and the results you need.|
|4||Check that the tests have been carried out against international standards. Alternatively, check that the standards and methods used can be accepted in the country of destination.|
|5||In case of problems, contact the NAB.|
It is possible to ascertain whether the NAB is a signatory for the scope by checking the directory of EA MLA signatories.
The EA Multilateral Agreement (EA MLA) covers the following conformity assessment activities and standards:
|Accreditation scope/Activities||Standards used for accreditation|
Testing and Medical examination
|EN ISO/IEC 17025
EN ISO 15189
|EN ISO/IEC 17025|
|EN ISO/IEC 17065|
Certification of persons
|EN ISO/IEC 17024|
Management systems certification
|EN ISO/IEC 17021-1|
|EN ISO/IEC 17020|
|Validation and Verification Bodies
GreenHouse Gas (GHG) Validation
|EN ISO 14065|
|Proficiency Testing Providers (PTP)
Proficiency Testing Providers
|EN ISO/IEC 17043|
|Reference Materials Producers (RMP)
Reference Materials Producers
|EN ISO 17034|
Extension of the MLA scope to cover Reference Materials Producers
The General Assembly, during EA 39th GA in May 2017, has approved the launching of the EA MLA for Reference Material Producers (EN ISO 17034) during the Council meeting in April 2019. By the end of 2019, there were 8 National Accreditation Bodies signatories to the EA MLA for RMP, who delivered 38 accreditation in 2019 and became the first signatories to the ILAC MRA for RMP!
All conformity assessment results (e.g. reports and certificates) provided by Conformity Assessment Bodies accredited by an EA MLA signatory are considered to be under the EA MLA provided that the conformity assessment results issued by the CAB contain a reference to the relevant accreditation.
To confirm equivalence of accreditation activities or validity of reports and certificates issued by accredited bodies, EA Members can use EA-INF/04 Statement on acceptance and recognition of activities under the EA MLA and issue a “statement of equivalence” in response to requests made by regulators or other users.
The EA MLA provides a framework to realize the objective ‘Accredited once, accepted everywhere’.
For national governments and regulators
- Supporting implementation of European and national legislations by confirming compliance with standards and applicable requirements;
- Enhancing trade and economic growth by giving governments confidence in accreditation and competent suppliers of goods and services;
- Limiting costs and resources by eliminating a number of administrative obligations. The EA MLA reduces the need to employ specialized assessment personnel for regulatory controls and avoids duplication of audits.
For industry and the business community
- Boosting competitiveness: with the EA MLA, businesses can differentiate their services by providing objective evidence of technical competence, impartiality and compliance with international requirements and avoid the costs of re-testing;
- Reducing controls and increasing quality: importing goods and services with an EA MLA accredited report or certificate can be both less risky and cheaper as businesses do not need to provide additional evidence;
- Supporting export: as the EA MLA is recognized internationally, its opens new opportunities on the global market by eliminating barriers to trade.
For Consumers and Citizens
- Creating trust: consumers’ confidence in the market is enhanced when they know that the products and services they choose are controlled by an independent and competent body which is itself regularly assessed by an impartial body;
- Operating in the public interest: all along the supply chain, consumers’ interest is safeguarded by the EA MLA Signatories who act as “checkers of checkers”.