The last decades witnessed an impressive increase in the amount of goods produced and marketed all around the world. For the consumers, it means that a final product could have travelled to several places, with various locations of production and controls, before getting to them.
Therefore, international trade arrangements have become more and more necessary to guarantee the quality and assure the continuous flow of the goods circulation.
For instance, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada, entered into force provisionally on 21 September 2017,includes a chapter on technical barriers to trade that encourages cooperation in applying technical regulations and standards in order to avoid unnecessary obstacles to international trade, by positioning accreditation and conformity assessment as a prerequisite to business on European and Canadian markets. But there are many other examples of such bilateral or multilateral developments at global level.
In Europe, the European Commission, through Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 has appointed EA to be the European infrastructure for accreditation in charge of developing and maintaining a multilateral agreement of mutual recognition, the EA MLA. This agreement exists to ensure the recognition and the acceptance of the accreditation systems operated by the signing members, and also ensure the reliability of the conformity assessment results provided by Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) accredited by the signatory National Accreditation Bodies.
According Regulation (EC) No 765/2008, Article 11 (2) national authorities shall recognise the equivalence of the services delivered by those National Accreditation Bodies which have successfully undergone peer evaluation by EA and thereby accept the accreditation certificates of those bodies and the attestations issued by the Conformity Assessment Bodies accredited by them.
To date, 43 National Accreditation has signed the EA MLA (see https://european-accreditation.org/ea-members/directory-of-ea-members-and-mla-signatories). At the end of 2018, more than 35200 accreditations had been granted by the EA MLA signatories, showing an increase of approximately 20% compared to 2013.
On an international scale, ILAC, for accreditation of laboratories and inspection bodies and IAF, for accreditation of certification bodies ensure that the work carried out by accreditation bodies is consistent across the globe and maintain international standards from one accreditation body to others. In 2019, 103 signatories in ILAC and 90 in IAF are accrediting organisations testing, inspecting or certifying products and services under the IAF and ILAC umbrellas, covering 96% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Accreditation covered by the ILAC and IAF mutual arrangements assure global acceptance with equal confidence.
Thanks to the existing and expanding multilateral arrangements but also active and continuous cooperation between accreditation bodies and stakeholders, accreditation and conformity assessment prove to be a reliable means to demonstrate goods and services compliance with global applicable standards and deliver confidence in the supply chains for all involved: prescribers, authorities, industries and at the end, consumers and citizens.
Further information on WAD 2019 on https://european-accreditation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/WAD-2019-brochure.pdf