On 28-29 March 2017 in Brussels, the EA Horizontal Harmonisation Committee (HHC) held its 17th meeting, whose second day was dedicated to a workshop on the EA procedure for evaluation of conformity assessment schemes.
The workshop generated vivid discussions by the 56 attendants, keen to share their experience and questions on how to deal with schemes and scheme owners in their daily activities. Practical aspects were reviewed; in particular, how to proceed when assessing and validating a scheme according to EA-1/22, the EA document setting out the evaluation procedure, was discussed based on a resentation by RvA highlighting best practices. In parallel, a work is ongoing at the HHC level to collect examples from NABs with a view to establish harmonised best practice in the field.
Another key issue of common interest is the process at the EA level, notably when consensus cannot be reached by EA members during the first steps of the scheme evaluation. This was reviewed and explained in detail by Karine Vincent (COFRAC), the HHC Vice-Chair. She also described the subsequent process between scheme owners and their home ABs when schemes evolve after having been successfully evaluated.
The exchange during the workshop highlighted a number of points for improvement in EA-1/22 and its supporting processes. Action will be taken at the EA Secretariat for management aspects and giving easy access to scheme documentation.
During the first day of the HHC meeting, a significant amount of time was dedicated to the questions raised by HHC members. It is worth noting that, as the EA Certification, Inspection and Laboratory Committees have been doing for a long time, the HHC reiterated its will to maintain its FAQ list to be referred to by NABs in their daily operations.
Further to the IAF resolution on use of the accreditation symbol/mark by accredited CBs, and in order to update the rules where required, the HHC appointed a TFG led by Leopoldo Cortez (IPAC) to revise EA-3/01 Conditions for use of accreditation symbols, text reference to accreditation and reference to EA MLA signatory status. The TFG will have to translate the so-called “transparency” concept which aims to ensure that the customer, when asking explicitly for an accredited service, gets the relevant document with the relevant evidence given by the mark.
Ignacio Pina (ENAC), the HHC Chair, informed that the Committee would get actively involved in the implementation of the EA Strategy 2025 to address specifically two points concerning: 1) cooperation with schemes; and 2) EA speaking with “one voice”. Document EA-2/17 that encapsulates the list of preferred standards to be used for directives and modules was a major result of the Accreditation for Notification (AfN) project in 2016 in order for EA to have “one voice” in the notification field. The HHC contributed to this successful outcome with the publication of EA-2/17 and is determined to further reinforce its role in support of sustainable harmonisation of accreditation practices.
Progress of the CASCO work on revision of ISO/IEC 17011 was also discussed in the HHC. The Committee was informed of the postponed publication of the final draft. Transition measures were considered in the light of ILAC/IAF discussions. The HHC decided to set up a specific workshop during its March 2018 meeting.
Jasna Stojanović and Radivoje Nikoličić attended the meeting on behalf of ATS.