The 31st EAAB Meeting was held on 30 October 2013 in Brussels, Belgium, at the EFTA Secretariat.
Discussions of the Board focused on revising the Stakeholders’ Expectations from Accreditation, a key document of the EAAB, in order to update it in the light of Regulation (EC) 765/2008. The revised document will outline not only the common expectations of the Board, but also the specific expectations of each college/stakeholder constituency. A drafting group in charge of collecting and putting together all inputs from the colleges and members of their stakeholder constituencies was set up in April 2013 and presented a revised draft for discussion at the October meeting. The draft was thoroughly reviewed and improved during the meeting before it is fine-tuned by the CAB College and proofread by the EA Secretariat. The final draft should be submitted to the next EAAB meeting for final approval.
Representation on the EAAB was further discussed. ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation, confirmed their willingness to attend the EAAB meetings in future and to contribute to the work of the Board. The EAAB also reasserted its willingness to extend its membership by one additional member from the European environmental organisations. The Board thanked the ANEC representative for his proposal to discuss EA’s invitation to join the Board with ECOS, the European environmental Citizens’ Organisation for Standardisation, and to ask them whether they could suggest another environmental organisation to be represented on the EAAB. The point should be followed up at the next meeting.
The EAAB expressed its support for EA’s attempt convincing IAF to define their MLA scope according to the relevant international standards for CABs (i.e. level 3 documents), and in principle to carry out peer-evaluation including level 4 and 5 documents according to a sampling approach, taking into account the specific needs (in particular for regulatory schemes).
The Board also supported EA’s application to IAF for the 3 sub-scopes FSMS, ISMS and medical device MS (ISO 13485), as well as to extend the scope of EA to the level 2/3 activity – certification of persons (ISO/IEC 17024).
During the report made on the last HHC meeting, the Board expressed doubts as to whether sampling as such can be considered as an accreditable conformity assessment activity. EA was finally requested to come up with a harmonized approach on whether sampling as a separate activity can be accredited or not.
The issue, brought up to the Board by the CAB College, of reissuance of the tests reports when the trade name or the trademark of the tested product has changed gave rise to lively discussions. The Industry College considered that, in the absence of any substantial change to the product, a mere declaration by the manufacturer that the product is unchanged should be sufficient, with no need for re-issuing the test report. This is the manufacturer who will bear the entire responsibility for the product. The EA Chair recognized that there may be some confusion between a test report, which is focussed on a specific product, and a type approval certificate. Such misunderstanding is unfortunately a common practice which results in a wrong use of test reports – which is a real concern. It was then recognized that some feedback from the market may be needed to get the issue clarified. EA accepted to defer the adoption of any resolution until a survey is completed to obtain more comprehensive feedback from all the sectors concerned. EUROLAB was ready to conduct the survey and to report on the results at the next EAAB meeting.
The EAAB Industry College would welcome feedback on how often the templates for the statement of equivalence of accreditation activities produced and revised by EA in 2012 have been used so far by EA-member ABs. EA agreed to give an overall feedback on the actual use EA Members have been making of the different templates at the EAAB meeting in April 2014.
The Board acknowledged that EA comments have been put forward to IAF and ILAC on the US EPA scheme on certification and accreditation against Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products. EAAB members also supported EA for opting for any way – either by activities of individual EA Members or by an EA position – in order to react against the additional requirements defined by the scheme.
Finally the Board reasserted its full support to EA for being ensured to obtain the adequate financial resources from the EC. The EAAB invited the EC to make sure that the role of EA as the structure referred to in Regulation (EC) 765/2008, article 14, could not be questioned as a consequence of the possible absence of an agreement between EA and the EC as from 1st January 2014.
The whole Board paid a glowing tribute to Daniel Pierre, the outgoing EA Vice-Chair, who participated in his last EAAB meeting before retiring the very following day. He was thanked for his great contribution to accreditation for about 2 decades.
The next EAAB meeting will be held on Thursday 3 April 2014 with the incoming EA Vice-Chair, Geir Samuelsen from NA (Norway).