On 10 April 2019 was signed by Mr Henri Gétaz, Secretary-General EFTA, the 3rd Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) for a new four-year period. A similar agreement was signed on 13 December 2018 with the European Commission (EC).
The FPA aims to widen and strengthen co-operation with EA and its members in order to reflect and support actively the development of EU policy and legislation for open and fair trade on the European market.
It aims to support the realization of the specific Action Plan 2018-2021 under which EA makes several major commitments to:
- Continue strengthening its peer evaluation system;
- Review and extend the Accreditation for Notification package to ensure harmonization of accreditation against European legislation;
- Extend coverage of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and EU to new product fields;
- Establish the EA training Academy, change and reinforce EA’s management and decision-making structure;
- Reaffirm and reinforce cooperation with its stakeholders, improve conformity assessment visibility and enhance EA’s role at the international level.
The implementation of the Action Plan is made possible thanks to the financial resources allocated to EA by the EC and EFTA under the new FPA. The balance between financial support given by EC, EFTA and EA Members is a strong asset to a fruitful and sustainable cooperation.
Closer connection between EA top management and DG GROW of the EC as well as with EFTA has developed over the years and is another proof of confidence put in EA and the European accreditation infrastructure to support European policy. Evidence of the importance of EA’s role in the development of European legislation is given indeed by the number of sectors in which EA supports various Departments (DGs) of the Commission, when developing and implementing policies where accreditation plays a key role.
In the field of trade agreements also EA has been an active partner. Since 2016 and the signature of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and EU, both partners have shared knowledge and experience and built strong relations that pave the way for fair trade between the two economies while creating new business opportunities. In July 2018, the EU also signed with Japan a trade agreement which is expected to enter into force in February 2019. This Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) contains a number of provisions that will simplify trade and investment procedures, reduce export and investment related costs and will therefore enable more small firms to do business in both markets. It includes also provisions on accreditation and conformity assessment.
In Europe, accreditation is used as a major tool facilitating circulation of goods, essential to enhance trust from citizens and create fair, open and reliable trade.
This is the ambition underlying the Action plan which EA and its Members will continue to serve under the new FPA in the coming years.