19th and 20th meeting of the Communication and Publications Committee (EA CPC)

International activities

The twentieth meeting of the Communication and Publications Committee (CPC) of the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) was held in the period between 7th and 8th September 2011 in Milan, Italy, while the nineteenth meeting was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in the period between 6thand 7th April.

The twentieth meeting of the Communication and Publications Committee (CPC) of the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) was held in the period between 7th and 8th September 2011 in Milan, Italy. It was organised by the Italian accreditation body (ACCREDIA).

The most important resolutions adopted by the General Assembly at its 27th meeting were presented at the CPC meeting: Resolutions 04 and 05 (confirming the adoption of the new EA Strategy and strategic objectives), Resolutions 06 and 07 (on impartiality as defined in ISO/IEC 17011, while the document noted by the EA General Assembly (EA GA) as part of the training material for future peer evaluator training document had also been sent to ILAC and IAF for consideration if other regions confirmed the need for guidance to the clause on impartiality), and Resolution 25 (EA GA had adopted to revise EA-1/06 following which the CPC shall revise EA-1/08 to bring EA-1/08 in line with the revised EA-1/06), and Resolution 27 confirming that the EA MLA will be extended with a new activity: verification based on ISO 14065). Furthermore, the Best Practice Guide that was presented on the EA website as an extremely useful tool for accreditation bodies coming into contact with the institutions encountering the concept of accreditation for the first time. With this end in view it is necessary for ILAC and IAF to review whether the said document can be used at international level. EA should cooperate with this work item to avoid duplication.

A first draft of the document entitled EA-3/01: Conditions for Use of Accreditation Symbols and Reference to MLA Signatory Status was discussed when the conclusion was made to resume control over the use of accreditation symbol / reference to accreditation on certificates issued, but when it comes to the use of the accreditation symbol by CABs for promotional purposes the conclusion was that a flexible policy thereon is needed. With this end in view the said document EA-3/01 should contain one part on the reporting and the second on the promotion of accreditation. However, it will be necessary to check whether conformity assessment bodies (CABs) misuse the promotion and use of accreditation symbol. In addition, it was proposed to post CAB scopes with larger number of accreditations on the websites of the national accreditation bodies (NABs).

When it comes to the use of accreditation symbol and reference to signatory status of the EA MLA (EA-3/01), the conclusion was that it was not possible to introduce a requirement that the symbol shall be used. In that case accredited CABs shall be very clear to ensure that the market can clearly distinguish between conformity assessment activities under accreditation and those not under accreditation. In case when NABs are not in favour of having a flexible policy on the use of the accreditation symbol / reference to accreditation by CABs for promotional purposes, NABs will be free to establish further requirements CABs shall meet for use of the accreditation symbol / reference to accreditation. It was further agreed that EA should as far as possible rely on global agreed criteria for use of accreditation symbol / reference to accreditation, i.e. ILAC P 8 and IAF ML 2. The process will therefore be for the WG to consider which additional requirements may be needed at EA level – compared to the criteria in ILAC P8 and IAF ML2, especially when it comes to additional requirements for accredited CABs when issuing reports and certificates stating conformity with European legislation (use of the accreditation symbol / reference to accreditation is mandatory for notified bodies). It was agreed that the final version of the document would be discussed at the following Committee meeting.

Design of the EA MLA brochure will be continued so that the final version thereof could be finalised. Eurachem, Euramet, Eurolab and CEOC International, i.e. Permanent Liaison Group will be asked for feedback before publication. On the other hand, the EA brochure “Confidence in Competence” needs to be amended and used at EU level so that regulators, Commission, and other stakeholders could be introduced to the activities of the EA as an organisation that on behalf of the EC performs accreditation activities and manages the role of accreditation. The aim is for this brochure to become a general one used by various ABs in their promotional activities, but at EA level. This would be an opportunity for clients to get introduced to the EA activities.

Use of a draft template of accreditation certificate by NABs shall be introduced into EA-1/16: Statement of equivalence - Enhancing visibility of accredited results, and it shall also contain the definition of the scope of accreditation. Therefore EA-1/16 should be revised, while a proposal to revise the said document will be prepared for the EA GA in November 2011. In that case the proposed version would have 3 annexes:
1. a statement on the status of NABs
2. statement on reports / certificates issued by accredited CABs
3. and a template for accreditation certificates.
Following the analysis of the certificate lay-out a draft template of accreditation certificates was produced and it has to include the accreditation logo of a NAB, and the text at the bottom on validity of the “certificate” should be revised into “The state of validity of this Accreditation Certificate can be confirmed by ….”. Accreditation status will be checked via CABs’ websites, and the certificate shall contain an additional explanation related to the accreditation status since major changes may occur in the scope and status of accreditation.

The CPC established a WG to produce the EA Annual MLA report that will be approved by the MAC, while the said report will be discussed at the next CPC meeting.

There is a need to upgrade the EA Data Base Search Facility (SF) and therefore the key words will be linked to the activities of accredited CABs and updated by the Working Group. NABs that are MLA signatories are obliged to provide the data from the scopes of their accredited CABs (so far only 12 ABs are publishing data on the SF for calibration and testing), so that the EA SF could be used more effectively.

The very structure of the EA website and its “members only” section (MO) has not been updated for a very long time. Accreditation bodies that are EA members should present the topics they want to be posted on the website and submit the updated data (address, phone number, etc.). The CPC established a Task Force Group (TFG) and it will redesign the website and MO section since it is necessary to have easily downloadable data. Additionally, it is necessary to produce the list of new fields of accreditation introduced by NABs since there are no systematic data at EA level. Those data should be allocated to MO section or technical committees should, within their own field of expertise, collect the data and submit them to the CPC so that the said data could be posted. Thus the EA will be able to cooperate with EU regulators and help harmonise accreditation-related activities.

The first draft of the procedure for EA communications was presented at the meeting and it will be further discussed by the EA EX and Secretariat. All CPC members’ support is needed for EA communications in particular when it comes to the EA e-bulletin. the CPC proposed the following annual communication schedule - news on the outcome from the EA technical committees around the end of April and October, and news on the decisions in the EA General Assembly meetings around mid-June and mid-December by using the advanced software for communication purposes.

It was agreed that the theme of the following International Accreditation Day would be food and drinking water-related.

The last survey on service level among EA ABs was conducted in 2003 and therefore the new one is needed. In order to be able to compare the NABs’ performance, it is necessary to produce a survey that will have the same questions, whereas cultural differences shall be taken into consideration, i.e. the survey shall have 2 levels - a customer survey performed by each NAB, and a customer survey performed by EA towards accredited CABs. A TFG was established to draft a survey template that would be presented and agreed at the next CPC meeting.

It was agreed to organise a 2 full day marketing workshop at the following CPC meeting in London (Best Practice Marketing Workshop).

The key element for the CPC is the Communication Plan since it should be based on strategic objectives (Communication Strategy). Therefore the objectives defined in this plan, including the Strategy, will be discussed at March 2012 meeting that will be hosted by the British accreditation body (UKAS).

Jasna Stojanović and Katarina Bogojević attended the meeting on behalf of the ATS.

19th CPC meeting

The nineteenth CPC meeting took place on 6th and 7th April 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden. It was organised by the Swedish accreditation body (SWEDAC). The majority of discussions focused on the promotion of EA and the EA MLA.

After the CPC agreed to withdraw the current brochure “Confidence in Competence” published by EA a long time ago, a TFG was established to prepare a new brochure about EA and the European accreditation system.

EA has bought software and developed a draft template to be used for EA’s electronic communication (e.g. e-bulletin). The new software will be introduced for EA communications in the near future.

A TFG is also working on the EA corporate/visual identity. The CPC agreed to give priority to revision of the EA website in 2012 and, for this purpose, to recommend the EX to allocate appropriate financial resources in the 2012 budget.

The final text of an EA MLA brochure prepared by a TFG should be available shortly. This brochure is targeted at governments and Regulators.

The CPC members discussed if a shorter version of the Statement of Equivalence (EA-1/16) should be developed for use by a foreign NAB supporting the acceptance on the foreign market of certificates and reports issued by a CAB accredited by the local NAB. NABs shall hereby confirm the following: that the accreditation systems are equivalent, that accredited activities performed by a CAB are part of the EA MLA, that certificates and reports issued by accredited CABs are equally reliable as those issued by a NAB, and that a CAB accredited by a NAB from another country is competent to perform conformity assessment activities as part of the scope.

Still to promote equal reliability of accreditation, the CPC discussed if a common lay-out for accreditation certificates should be developed with the purpose to have a template containing the key information needed to demonstrate to the market that the CAB is accredited. A TFG will look into the issue and report at the next CPC meeting in September 2011.

After approval by the General Assembly in November 2010, a TFG started preparing the revision of EA-3/01: Conditions for Use of Accreditation Symbols and Reference to MLA Signatory Status. A few key issues having an impact on the direction of the revision were first discussed at the last meeting.

Revision of EA-3/01 will have two purposes:

a) to align the criteria for use of accreditation symbols for accredited laboratories with the requirement stated in ILAC P8 and – if possible – rely fully on the ILAC requirements and withdraw the specific EA requirements contained in EA-3/01 for accredited laboratories;
b) to introduce the recommendations from the EAAB and the EA TFG on an EA Accreditation Symbol to refer to the EA MLA on accreditation certificates and on certificates and reports issued by accredited conformity assessment bodies for activities covered by the EA MLA.

CPC recommendations were endorsed by the EA General Assembly in May 2011 to be included in the revised EA-3/01 with the objective to support the promotion of the EA MLA and contribute to the acceptance of the MLA by the market place.

The TFG in charge finalised the revision of EA-1/08: EA Multilateral and Bilateral Agreements and Signatory Lists, introducing a brief presentation of the EA MLA and reshaping the listing of the signatories to the EA MLA. Signatories will be shown in a table with indication of the activities for which the AB has signed the EA MLA. Once the CPC-approved final document is endorsed by the EA Executive Committee, the EA Secretariat will publish the document and add dates for signing the EA MLA on the EA website (June 2011).

The main results of the “Benchmarking Survey on Communication with Regulators” conducted in 2010 are as follows:
- cooperation with national authorities has improved;
- results of peer evaluation of the NAB are communicated by the NAB to its national Regulators;
- improved cooperation in relation to legislation on Notified Bodies and in the assessment; the EA Directive Networks have not been developed enough yet to “provide a central hub of information and facilitate the sharing of information”.

Those results were taken into account on the occasion of revision of the Best Practice Guide, and the CPC agreed that, except for minor editorial changes, the Guide’s recommendations will be kept as formulated. The revised version of the Guide, which was approved by the CPC, will be presented to the EA Executive Committee for endorsement before the EA Secretariat publishes the updated Guide.

In April, the CPC also updated its Work Programme for 2011/12 to be endorsed by the General Assembly in May 2011. Among other things, the CPC members agreed to introduce a work item on public availability of accreditation symbols into the 2012 WP, as the market place should have easy access to accreditation symbols for NABs signatories to the EA MLA.

Jasna Stojanović attended the meeting on behalf of the ATS.