European co-operation for accreditation (EA) at its website, https://european-accreditation.org, published EA MLA Report for 2022 on 10th May, 2023
The EA MLA Report provides information on the activities of the Multilateral Agreement Council (EA MAC Committee) which is responsible for the effective and impartial management and monitoring of peer evaluation and which makes decisions related to the achievement of the status of a signatory to a multilateral (EA MLA) or bilateral agreement (EA BLA) on the equivalence of the accreditation system at the level of the EA or the European Union (EU). The report provides an overview of the key activities implemented in the previous year and the decisions made concerning signatories.
The EA MLA agreement provides the European market with a network of conformity assessment bodies that, within their scope of accreditation, issue equally reliable documents on the conformity of products and services, thus reducing the fee of reassessment of conformity and adding value to the economy and consumers. This contributes to the realization of one of the four basic freedoms of the EU – the freedom of movement of goods, which achieves the efficient functioning of the EU internal market by removing technical barriers.
The EA Multilateral Agreement (MLA) was signed by 44 EA Members by end of 2022.
Following the huge increase of peer evaluations in 2021 on account of the postponements from 2020 due to pandemic restrictions, the number of peer evaluations performed in 2022 decreased to a level comparable to 2019. Besides, due to the removing of pandemic restrictions, on-site evaluations restarted in 2022 and MAC decided that the whole of peer evaluations will be carried out on-site in 2023.
In 2022, two newcomer training sessions (usually planned every two years) took place in 2022, resulting in 46 new peer evaluators, i.e. a quarter of the total number of evaluators authorized by the end of 2022. To still improve the priority issue of peer evaluators’ resources, an additional newcomer training session will be organized in 2023.
The MAC project on reengineering the peer-evaluation system is now nearing its completion. The revised EA-2/02: EA Procedure for the Evaluation of a National Accreditation Body has been published together with five supplements to EA-2/02. Two of them build upon the experience gained during the pandemic: EA-2/02 S4 describes the Procedure for Remote Peer Evaluations during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and EA-2/02 S5 sets out the MAC Procedure for Making the EA MLA Decisions by Online Ballot.
The number of signatories for each scope of the EA MLA remains quite stable in 2022 compared to 2021, with slight progress in the number of signatories for medical examinations, person certification, and inspection.
The MAC decided to launch the EA MLA for validation and verification bodies against EN ISO/IEC 17029 in October 2022 based on at least one successful transition to EN ISO/IEC 17029 (level 3) and EN ISO 14065:2020 (level 4) declared by a national accreditation body (NAB), or at least one successful peer evaluation of a NAB against EN ISO/IEC 17029. The MAC also decided to start the peer evaluations in the field of validation and verification against EN ISO/IEC 17029. Four NABs already signed the MLA for this scope by the end of 2022.
Furthermore, in November 2022, the EA General Assembly decided to expand the EA MLA with immediate effect to include biobanking as a level 2 conformity assessment activity using EN ISO 20387 Biotechnology — Biobanking — General Requirements for Biobanking as a new level 3 normative document. The prerequisites for the launch of the MLA on biobanking will be defined in 2023.
Maria Paptzikou, the Chair of EA MAC, who summarized the contents of this EA MLA Report, said that she is very grateful for their outstanding contribution to maintaining and improving the EA MLA as a sustainable mechanism for ensuring both European and international reliable equivalence and mutual acceptance of certificates and reports issued by accredited conformity assessment bodies.
Strong but also flexible accreditation and peer-evaluation systems are vital to maintaining confidence in the public service that we provide.
EA MLA can be downloaded from this link: HERE