A public hearing on the Accreditation Bill was held on 26th March at the premises of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Vidosava Džagić, Vice President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, and Jelena Popović, Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, gave opening addresses, whereas
Ms Popović explained in detail the basic reasons for the adoption of the new Law on Accreditation (draft version).
Basic reasons for the adoption of the new Law on Accreditation pertain to:
- harmonisation with the legislation of the Republic of Serbia (Law on the Ministries and Public Administration Law);
- alignment with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Agreement on the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT);
- an impartial and transparent mode of performing accreditation activities in the Republic of Serbia;
- harmonisation with the EU legislation (Regulation on Requirements for Accreditation and Market Surveillance - No 765/2008/EC);
- harmonisation with the EU rules and practice (EA Guidance on the horizontal requirements for the accreditation of conformity assessment bodies for notification purposes);
- creation of conditions to sign a multilateral agreement with the European Cooperation for Accreditation (EA) on the mutual acceptance and equivalence of accreditation procedure, and
- harmonisation with the requirements of SRPS ISO/IEC 17011.
Solutions proposed in the Accreditation Bill are in accordance with the basic principles of the European accreditation presented in the Regulation setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance, and requirements of SRPS ISO/IEC 17011:
- principles of accreditation are identical for both regulated and non-regulated areas (Article 2, points 1 and 6 of the Bill – Article 3 of the Regulation);
- if public administration bodies do not perform accreditation activities directly, the country shall delegate accreditation activities to its national accreditation body on the basis of its public authorisation (Article 6 of the Bill – Article 4 of the Regulation);
- the country shall appoint one accreditation body (Article 6 of the Bill – Article 4 of the Regulation);
- national accreditation body is a non-profit organisation (Article 9 of the Bill – Article 4 of the Regulation);
- the country shall provide adequate resources for the national accreditation body (Article 17 of the Bill – Article 4 of the Regulation);
- the country shall supervise the work of the national accreditation body (Article 28 of the Bill – Article 9 of the Regulation);
- national accreditation body supervises the work of accredited CABs (Article 22 of the Bill – Article 5 of the Regulation);
- if a national accreditation body determines that an accredited CAB is no longer competent to perform certain conformity assessment activities or that a CAB made a serious breach of its obligations, the national accreditation body shall undertake measures within a reasonable deadline to limit, temporarily or permanently withdraw the accreditation certificate (Article 22 of the Bill – Article 5 of the Regulation);
- national accreditation bodies shall be subjected to peer evaluation when it will be determined whether they meet the requirements of the Regulation setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance (No 765/2008/EC), whereas relevant harmonised standards shall also be taken into consideration (Article 27 of the Bill – Article 10 of the Regulation);
- defined conditions of cross-frontier cooperation in accordance with the EU regulations (Articles 25 and 26 of the Bill - Article 7 of the Regulation);
- Regulation also contains the requirements of SRPS ISO/IEC 17011 according to which a national AB: must not be the CABs’ competition, and it must be organised in such a way so as to be independent from a CAB it assesses, and free from any commercial pressures (Article 11 of the Bill – Article 8 of the Regulation);
- adequate organisational structures must be established and maintained in order to enable effective and balanced involvement of all interested parties (Article 13 of the Bill – Article 4 of the Regulation);
- an AB must be organised and managed in such a way so as to protect objectivity and impartiality of its activities (Article 24 of the Bill and Articles relating to the management bodies – Article 8 of the Regulation), and
- national accreditation body must have procedures in place that are needed in case of complaints filed by CABs (Article 24 of the Bill – Article 5 of the Regulation).
The following amendments were made to the current law in order to harmonise it with the national regulations:
- status of the AB - agency or public service as stipulated in the Law on Public Services;
- reduced number of management bodies – the Accreditation Council, that is according to the current Law a collegial body with an advisory role, will be dissolved, and
- advisory role was given to technical committees as standing or temporary professional advisory bodies.
While explaining the provisions of the Accreditation Bill, Dejan Krnjaić PhD, Director of the Accreditation Board of Serbia, said he was pleased with the proposed solutions and emphasised that the current Law had to be improved in order to incorporate the provisions of the Regulation setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance (765/2008/EC), and made complete by means of the requirements of SRPS ISO/IEC 17011, and it introduced the new field defining cross-frontier accreditation.
In addition to the public hearing, the Bill was peer evaluated during a recent visit of the EA pre-peer evaluation team, and that on that occasion the team members made certain suggestions in order to upgrade the Bill to include all interested parties in accreditation process, and in order to avoid nonconformities with the EU Regulation package defining the measures to upgrade the trade in products.
According to his words, the first obvious amendment related to the change from one legal status of the national AB to another one that would make it a public service or agency in order to be able to protect public interest and preserve its independence and impartiality. The ATS Director informed the present participants about a joint stand adopted at the meeting of the Accreditation Council and Management Board. It required that the existing name of the ATS should not be changed so that clients would be able to recognise it, and in order to reduce the costs.
While explaining the reason for the merger between the Accreditation Council and Management Board, Mr Krnjaić emphasised that the management body would, in such a way, get broader competence and would involve a larger number of interested parties (Founder’s representatives, clients – accredited CABs, Chamber of Commerce, educational institutions, professional associations and consumer associations), and that the advisory role is related to different fields of accreditation would then be transferred to professional technical committees.
“All today’s proposals will be reviewed and incorporated into the Bill, and I hope that the proposed Accreditation Bill proposed by the Government will be soon adopted by the Parliament, and on that occasion it will take into consideration its importance in the protection of public interest”, said Mr Krnjaić and added that the most important of all would be to meet the requirements of Serbian economy and facilitate its business activities by enabling the ATS to sign multilateral agreements with international organisations in the field of accreditation This would increase competitiveness and remove barriers to trade, whereas additional costs and time would be reduced accordingly.
Later during the discussion Lazar Turubatović informed the present participants about joint stands of the ATS Accreditation Council and Management Board that those bodies sent to the entity that proposed the said law.
Biljana Tomić, ATS, Jelena Popović, MoERD, Vidosava Džagić, SCC, Dejan Krnjaić, ATS, and Kosa Rašković, MoERD
Jelena Popović, MoERD, and Vidosava Džagić, SCC
Dejan Krnjaić PhD, ATS
Kosa Rašković, MoERD
Lazar Turubatović PhD