First Meeting of the EA Horizontal Harmonisation Committee (EA HHC)

International activities

The first meeting of the newly established Horizontal Harmonisation Committee of the European Cooperation for Accreditation (EA HHC) was held in Brussels on 20th and 21st April 2009 and was organised by the Belgian Accreditation Body (BELAC).

The Horizontal Harmonisation Committee, EA HCC, was established within the new EA structure, and in October 2008 at the 22nd meeting of the General Assembly (EA GA) a document defining competences and tasks of the said Committee was adopted (Horizontal Harmonisation Committee - Terms of Reference).

Pursuant to this document, the HHC will be in charge of all aspects relating to harmonised application of ISO/IEC 17011 and relevant ILAC/IAF and EA documents and will be responsible for the harmonised application of horizontal requirements pertaining to assessment and accreditation of CABs wishing to get notified by relevant state bodies. As a matter of fact the HHC is particularly responsible for harmonised application of horizontal guides adopted by the EA. The application of specific standards for CABs (ISO/IEC 17025, 17020, 17021, EN 45011,...) as regards notified bodies and studying sector aspects will remain within the competence of relevant EA technical committees.

Furthermore, this committee is responsible for the evaluation of sector conformity assessment schemes in relation to relevant EA procedures, and particularly in relation to the document entitled EA-02/11: EA Policy For Conformity Assessment Schemes (Sector schemes).

The HHC monitors and supervises the operation of networks established to exchange the knowledge of EU directives. Currently, there are 19 suchlike networks for relevant directives, their coordinators, while accreditation bodies (ABs) proposed their representatives as participants of the said networks and activities therein. The ATS also proposed their representatives as participants of the networks and activities therein dealing with certain directives. The HHC is accountable to the General Assembly (EA GA) and regularly reports to the EA GA thereon. The work of the HHC is supervised by the EA EC, and the Chairman of the HHC is at the same time a member of the EA EC.

Key topics of the first EA HHC meeting  covered the follows items: adoption of the EA HHC workplan in accordance with an EA GA that would define competences and tasks of this committee, relationship between the HHC and the EA MLA Council (ex MAS) and relationship with other technical committees; revision of documents under the supervision of the HHC (EA-2/11, EA-2/15, EA-2/13 and EA-3/09), and definition of their revisions to harmonise them with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011 and EU Regulation 765 on accreditation and market surveillance; directives and notified bodies (effects on the EA and EA members arising from EU Regulation 765, establishment of the EA network for directives, competences and tasks to be performed by networks for directives and working procedures, accreditation of CABs wishing to get notified, adoption of the document entitled EA-2/17: defining horizontal requirements for accreditation of CABs with the aim of their being notified, and a possibility to include this accreditation in the EA MLA); new areas of EA MLA (MLA for PT providers, MLA for ISO 14065 – verification of greenhouse gas emission, etc.); application of ISO/IEC 17011 (establishment of a group that will answer the queries as regards the application of ISO/IEC 17011 and present the answers to the HHC, questions made by the MAC as regards the requirements to be met by state bodies that would be liable for accreditation, and as regards requirements for impartiality and independence as laid down in ISO/IEC 17011, GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) proposals as regards requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting bodies in the area of food safety, analysis and assessment of sector schemes proposed by the FOS (Friends Of the Sea) for the accreditation of certification bodies certifying sea food – whether a scheme is in accordance with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011 and EA procedure for sector schemes (EA-2/11), cross-frontier accreditation of CAB branches and other locations abroad).

At this meeting the relationship between this newly established committee and EA MLA Council (EA MAC) and other EA technical committees was discussed. It was concluded that the HHC would tackle only horizontal issues, whereas this will be taken into consideration during the communication with other committees. The HHC will tackle the issues and initiatives launched by the MAC and other committees and review them only in the light of harmonization as regards ISO/IEC 17011 and relevant ILAC/IAF and EA documents. The HHC will also launch its own initiatives and will tackle the issues raised by the ABs that are EA members.

Following the discussion relevant conclusions were made and proposals of the resolutions to be forwarded to the General Assembly (EA GA) to be adopted.

The meeting was attended by about 35 representatives of the national ABs that are full members of or signatories to the Contract of Cooperation with the EA, representatives of interested parties (EAAB, WELMEC, etc.).

Vida Živković, MSc, attended the EA HHC meeting on behalf of the ATS.