More than 10 years ago, the European Commission published Regulation (EC) No 765/2008. The aim was to ensure that products benefiting from the free movement of goods within the Community fulfil requirements providing a high level of protection of public interest while ensuring that the free movement of products is not restricted to any extent greater than what is allowed under Community harmonisation legislation or any other relevant Community rules.

To reach these objectives, it was necessary to establish an overall framework of rules and principles in relation to accreditation, conformity assessment and market surveillance. Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 provides a comprehensive framework for accreditation and lays down at Community level the principles for its operation and organization.

The special value of accreditation is to provide an authoritative statement of the technical competence of bodies, whose task is to ensure conformity with the applicable requirements, providing a high level of protection of public interest.

Moreover, transparent accreditation, as provided by Regulation (EC) No 765/2008, should be considered by the national public authorities as the preferred means of demonstrating the technical competence of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs).

Due to the new accreditation system set out in Regulation (EC) No 765/2008, the number of European legislations with reference to accreditation and conformity assessment has increased significantly. Accreditation is also the preferred tool to demonstrate the competence of CABs in trade agreements with third countries with the aim of mutual acceptance of conformity assessment results, and consequently, the avoidance of technical barriers to trade (TBTs).

The European Commission confirmed in its report on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 (issued 19th of December 2017), that the European accreditation infrastructure created by Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 has provided added value, not only for the single market but also for international trade. The Regulation has established a trustworthy and stable accreditation system in all Member States, as well as EFTA countries and Turkey. Thanks to accreditation, consumers (end-users) can have confidence in certificates and reports issued by accredited conformity assessment bodies.

But how accepted is accreditation in Europe and used by the European and national authorities as well as private scheme owners/users as the preferred means to demonstrate competence of CABs and how robust is the accreditation system?

EA has been requested by the European Commission to provide specific indicators, which shall provide information about the functioning of accreditation in Europe.

Therefore, EA launched a survey to all EA National Accreditation Bodies and the results have been summarized in the report on the functioning of accreditation in Europe.

The report can be downloaded here