Annual seminar for accredited CABs traditionally organised by the Accreditation Body of Serbia (ATS) was held again this year on 25th January at the Sava Centre.
The purpose of this year’s seminar was to introduce the representatives of accredited CABs to a larger number of topics pertaining to technical requirements of importance to their work in the field of conformity assessment and accreditation, and to the new sub-laws drafted by the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development (MERR) that were harmonised with the EU legislation.
The seminar was opened by Jelena Popović, Assistant Minister at MERR Quality Infrastructure Sector, while other opening addresses were given by Freek Janmaat, Head of the European Integration Section, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, Snježana Pupavac, Chair of the ATS Management Board, and Vidosava Džagić, Vice President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
The seminar presentations were given by the representatives of the MERR, Directorate of Measures and Precious Metals, IPA 2011 regional project entitled Quality Infrastructure in the Western Balkans and Turkey and bilateral GIZ-ACCESS support project of the German Government (ACCESS - Program for Private Sector Development in Serbia) 2011-2013, experts of the ATS and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade. Representatives of accredited CABs and companies, professional associations and consumer organisations accepted the invitation to attend the seminar in large numbers (about 530 delegates).
During her opening address at the seminar entitled “ATS in Europe and World – Recognition of the Accreditation System”, Jelena Popović said that the signing of the Multilateral Agreement between the ATS and the European co-operation (EA) would provide better opportunities for Serbian businessmen to place their goods on the EU market. “Signing of the Agreement at the Copenhagen meeting in April will increase the competitiveness of Serbian products and export. This will endorse recognition of reports and certificates issued by our accredited CABs and thus contribute to easier movement of goods and services, and economic development of Serbia”, emphasised Ms Popović. According to her, this will enable recognition and acceptance of the assessment of the conformance with the requirements in case of Serbian products outside our country.
While presenting those technical regulations that had been harmonised with those of the EU, Jelena Popović stressed that the MERR aimed at upgrading the competitiveness of Serbian economy to make Serbia ready to become a part of the Single European Market, and that strategic QI objectives of the MERR included: establishment of the legal framework for the free movement of goods that is harmonised with the EU rules (2008 new goods package), transposed EU directives, 80 % of the EU standards were adopted, MLA to be signed between the ATS and EA, establishment of the product CA system, calibration of measuring instruments, and mutual recognition of industrial products when trading with the EU Member States.
Regarding the harmonisation of the legal framework of the Republic of Serbia with that of the EU in the period between 2009 and 2011, the umbrella laws were adopted and harmonised with the most recent EU rules (2008 new good’s package): Law on Technical Requirements for Products and Conformity Assessment, Law on Standardisation, Law on Metrology, and Law on Accreditation. The said laws and sub-laws were harmonised with Regulations 765/2008/EC and 764/2008/EC, and with Decision 768/2008/EC.
Drafting of the sub-laws underpinning the following documents is pending:
- Law on Metrology (14 sub-laws were adopted, 2 of them are still undergoing, there is an on-going public discussion for three of them, while two of them will be prepared- all sub-laws will be finalised by the end of May 2012),
- Law on the Control of Precious Metal Articles (a total of 15 sub-laws should be adopted, 2 are being adopted).
Pursuant to the Law on Metrology, a new system of designation of verification bodies (a total of 10 bodies were designated as of 20th January 2012 and they were issued a total of 21 decisions on designation).
A total of 5 New Approach directives falling within the competence of the MERR (2009-2011) was transposed: Regulation on Machinery Safety – MD, Regulation on Electrical Equipment - LVD, Regulation on Electromagnetic Compatibility - EMC, Regulation on Lift Safety, and Regulation on Personal Protective Equipment – PPE. Lists of Serbian standards are regularly updated since their implementation enables conformance with the requirements of the adopted regulations (PPE is currently in preparation). Guidelines for the application of the LVD/EMC/MD Regulations falling within scope of the MERR were developed and published.
According to Jelena Popović, 2012 plan envisaged the work on transposition of other directives falling within scope of the MERR: draft versions of the 3 regulations were prepared and they will serve as a basis for the transposition of EU Directives into the national legislation in the field of metrology: Measuring Instruments Directive (MID), Non-automatic Weighing Instruments (NAWI) Directive, and Pre-packages Directive. Public discussion on the draft versions of these regulations is on-going (in the period between 18th January and 20th February 2012). Another two regulations for equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX Directive) and noise emission by equipment for use outdoors (Directive 2000/14/EC) are currently in preparation. Other ministries are expected to transpose the following directives governing: pressure equipment (PED), simple pressure vessels (SPVD) and telecommunications terminal equipment (RTTED), while the work on the harmonisation with the EU regulations should also commence in the field of construction products, vehicles, chemicals…
In terms of application of the new technical regulations, i.e. New Concept for marketing of products, a total of 6 conformity assessment bodies were notified and 12 decisions on notification were made. Te following were notified by now: 3 CABs for performing conformity assessment activities in accordance with the EMC Regulation, 5 CABs in accordance with the MD Regulation, 3 CABs in accordance with the LVD Regulation and 1 CAB notified in accordance with the Regulation on Lift Safety (the Register is available at www.tehnis.merr.gov.rs). Notification procedure for another 3 CABs is on-going.
Vidosava Džagić, Vice President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, emphasised that the Multilateral Agreement between the ATS and EA would enable entry into the EU market, and pointed out the necessity to educate businessmen, and enhance work on the adoption of technical regulations and application of standards.
Freek Janmaat, Head of the European Integration Section, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, expressed his hope that Serbia would be granted EU candidate status and that three remaining EU Member States (Belgium, Lithuania and Romania) would soon ratify the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia.
This Agreement will enter into force when all the EU Members States have ratified it, and in the meanwhile, the Interim Agreement has been in use since 2009 given that it mainly contains trade provisions laid down in the SAA, reminded Mr Janmaat.
He assessed that the institutional capacity of the ATS needed to be reinforced, especially in terms of human resources given that citizens of Serbia would be the main beneficiaries of the mutual recognition of conformity assessment results between Serbia and the EU as they would be offered goods that would be safer, often cheaper and of a higher quality.
“Although progress has been noted, further efforts are needed in the alignment of the Serbian quality infrastructure with European standards, both in terms of the legislative framework and its implementation. Through assistance programmes, the European Union has shown its commitment in supporting Serbia to introduce and achieve such standards”, said Mr Janmaat and added that the European Union had so far provided Serbia with technical support, mainly through CARDS programme and IPA funds on national and regional levels, allocating approximately 10 million EUR.
Snježana Pupavac, Chair of the ATS Management Board, shortly reminded the delegates about the most important ATS activities in 2011 - peer evaluation, upgrade of the management system and entire system of accreditation, extension of its scope of activities to the new fields of accreditation on the basis of the assessed needs of the interested parties along with the upgrade of competence of all those participating in the accreditation-related activities that include both outsourced employees and permanent ATS employees.
According to her, the ATS improved national cooperation with the respective ministries, consumers, accredited CABs and their associations so that all interested parties could be better involved and in order to promote accreditation and open communication as regards all the topics in the field of accreditation and conformity assessment.
“In addition, the ATS was involved in all international activities, recognition of the ATS by all the EA committees and its working groups, and all in the interest of the Republic of Serbia. Pursuant to the signed memoranda on understanding, good cooperation between the ATS and other accreditation bodies (especially with those from the neighbouring countries) continued”, said Ms Pupavac and added that the ATS hosted last year important international meetings with the representatives from accreditation bodies from South East Europe and EA Multilateral Agreement Council members. Furthermore, in honour of International Accreditation Day and Accreditation Day in the Republic of Serbia on 14th June the ATS held a seminar dedicated to accredited testing laboratories in the field of analytical testing. The idea was to introduce national laboratories to the importance of international organisations such as Eurochem and Eurolab with the aim of establishing national Eurohem and Eurolab committees as part of this big family in order to be able to exchange knowledge and information.
During his presentation, Dejan Krnjaić PhD, ATS Director, presented the ATS 2011 activities and explained that the number of accredited CABs in 2007 raised from 200 to 373 in 2009, 404 in 2010 and 444 at the end of 2011.
Dejan Krnjaić PhD
While talking about the ATS international activities aiming at integration and recognition, the ATS Director informed the present delegates that, pursuant to the new EA Articles of Association and Rules of Procedure, the ATS had become an associate member thereof in Warsaw on 23.11.2011. Furthermore, on 29.12.2011 the ATS became the member of International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
The ATS finalised the harmonisation of its legal framework and in addition to the adoption of the Law on Accreditation on 12.10.2010 (Official Gazette of the RS No. 73/2010) and Decision on the Amendments to the Act on the Establishment of the Accreditation Board of Serbia on 24.02.2011 (Official Gazette of the RS No. 14/2011), the Statute of the Accreditation Body of Serbia was the last document in the series of documents that were adopted. New members of the ATS organs were appointed: new Supervisory Board and Management Board members were appointed at the meeting of the Government of the Republic of Serbia on 29.04.2011, while the new members of the Accreditation Council were appointed at the meeting of the Management Board on 01.06.2011. A large number of issues and revisions of the ATS management system documents were adopted in 2011.
David Norris and Dejan Krnjaić PhD
According to him, this helped the EA peer evaluators confirm the existence of an adequate legal framework underpinning the operation of the national accreditation body in the Republic of Serbia and that there was a constant upgrade of the procedures and that both permanent employees and external assessors and experts were dedicated and competent. EA team members concluded that the ATS performed its activities in accordance with the EA procedures and requirements, whereby confidence in competence of accredited CABs in our country was ensured.
“I am expecting the next EA MAC meeting in April 2012 with great anticipation since the equivalence of the Serbian accreditation system with those of the EU and world would then be officially confirmed”, concluded Mr Krnjaić.
While talking about the accreditation as tackled by technical regulations of the Republic of Serbia, Natalija Jovičić Zarić MSc, ATS Deputy Director emphasised that accreditation was mentioned either directly or indirectly in 21 laws, 5 regulations and 32 sub-laws, while the ATS put in place the procedure for the extension of activities that enabled, in terms of the availability of standards, EA guides and other documents, drafting of the new management system documents and revision of the existing ones, along with the selection and training of assessors for the purpose of the new fields of accreditation.
Natalija Jovičić Zarić MSc
David Norris, project Team Leader, gave a short presentation on the IPA 2011 project entitled “Quality Infrastructure in the Western Balkans and Turkey” that commenced in August 2011. This 30 month project has a budget of 2.5 million € and at least 20 hands-on training sessions with about 200 delegates, at least 11 PT exercises with at least 55 laboratories that will participate therein, including national accreditation bodies and metrology institutes. He asked all present CAB representatives to send, either to the ATS or project at: email@example.com, their proposals as regards the fields of PT schemes they were interested in.
After a period of intensive harmonisation with the EU regulations, the MERR started in 2011 preparations for the development of the Development Strategy for Quality Infrastructure. For this activity to be undertaken a support of the German Governmental Organisation for Technical Assistance (GIZ) was provided as part of a multi-annual programme for private sector development (Assistance to the Competitiveness and Compatibility for the EU of Serbian SMEs - ACCESS). In addition to the drafting of the Strategy containing recommendations for the development of the quality infrastructure and Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategy, it was anticipated to have a balanced development of all quality infrastructure components, i.e. provision of the support to all the institutions in this field – ATS, Directorate of Measures and Precious Metals, and Institute for Standardization of Serbia. With this end in view, Mr Helmut Mairhofer, Head of Quality Infrastructure Component that is a part of the said project, explained the delegates the importance of the programme for the development of the Serbian economy and emphasised that 4.7 million € had been provided for the first programme phase. It was planned that the first phase would end in 2013 when it is expected that business and investment climate would improve, as well as innovation system, quality infrastructure and absorption capacity for EU programmes.
Nikolić Sabina, Helmut Mairhofer, David Norris and Katarina Bogojević
Lucija Dujović, Assistant Director of the Directorate of Measures and Precious Metals, gave a lecture on the subject of experiences of the Directorate related to the work of designated bodies performing verification of measuring instruments. Ljubica Živanić, Head of the ATS Certification and Inspection Department, presented the experiences in accreditation of inspection bodies performing verification of measuring instruments, and requirements of the standards that these bodies had difficulties to fulfil.
Prof. Vera Katić PhD presented the Regulation on General and Special Food Safety Requirements in Any Stage of Production, Processing and Distribution (Official Gazette of the RS No. 72/10) and mentioned once again the criteria defined by legislators and reviewed the requested laboratory methods, as well as good laboratory practice. Bratislav Milošević PhD, ATS Assistant Director, shared with the delegates the experiences in accreditation of laboratories as per the provisions of the said Regulation. Mr Milošević informed the delegates that ever since the application of the new Regulation started on 1.6.2011 only 12 laboratories had one or more accredited food safety testing methods. Situation is now somewhat different, i.e. 36 out of 50 accredited testing laboratories used at least one accredited method that was a legal requirement for food safety, while 16 laboratories used more than 3 accredited methods, and only 2 laboratories used all five required methods when compared to 11 laboratories that used all accredited methods in the field of hygiene criteria. He explained that a revised version of the Rules for the Participation in Inter-laboratory Comparisons and Proficiency Testing Schemes ATS-PA02 entered into force on 14th October 2011 since it was harmonised with relevant EA and ILAC documents, especially in relation to the frequency and level of participation in proficiency testing. He stressed that strict observance of the ATS procedures led to the increased participation of laboratories in inter-laboratory comparisons and proficiency testing schemes, whereas laboratories were asked to first analyse their techniques and methods so that they could define their sub-disciplines and relevant level and frequency of participation in the said schemes and comparisons.
Prof. Vera Katić PhD
Bratislav Milošević PhD
Nikola Mirković, Head of the Conformity Assessment Group at the MERR QI Sector, presented the Regulation on Lift Safety. Ljubica Živanić made comments on the regulations that were repealed with effect from the date of entry into force of the Regulation on Machinery Safety and Regulation on Lift Safety from the point of view of accredited CABs that mentioned in their scopes of accreditation the repealed regulations, and ATS experiences in the assessments that were performed so far as per the new regulations.
Natalija Jovičić Zarić MSc gave lectures on the work of accredited CABs and gave practical examples that required additional clarification and interpretation of the standards from the point of view of accredited CABs and the ATS rules and procedures that were applied during the accreditation process. Most common problems that accredited CABs had related to the fulfilment of the following requirements: management (requirement and contract review; internal audits; division of competences and responsibilities), technical requirements (assessment methods/procedures; staff and equipment) and organisational changes.