ICAS 2012 and a workshop on ethical behaviour in conformity assessment

International activities

A workshop for the representatives of eight beneficiary countries (regulators, national accreditation bodies, conformity assessment bodies) was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 14th May 2012 as part of the activities of the EU funded (regional IPA project) project entitled "Quality Infrastructure in the Western Balkans and Turkey".

The workshop was on the subject of "Ethical Behaviour in Conformity Assessment", whereas special importance was attached to certification and problems that certification bodies are faced with in both Turkey and the Western Balkans.

The workshop was opened by David Norris, Team Leader of said IPA project, who invited the delegates to present the problems they were faced with in their own countries.

After the opening address a lecture was given by Frank Lee, BSI Manager (British Standards Institution) when he presented the principles of good practice and the impartiality-related requirements of ISO/IEC 17021 which are essential to the observance of the code of ethics. He stressed that it was necessary to make decisions on certification based on the objective evidence, while unauthorised practice will be prevented if conformity assessment rules are obeyed.

Ilker Ibik, Management Board Member of the Turkish Association for Conformity Assessment, UDDer, explained that the association was founded in 2006 to improve conformity assessment and communication therein, including better coordination between the public authorities and private sector, universities, chambers of commerce, consumer organisations and other non-governmental organisations. Therefore, it was necessary to define the code of ethics and the mode of its implementation through establishment of the Ethics Committee. He also emphasised that the UDDer achieved excellent cooperation with the market inspection and market inspectors.

Wolfgang Höhnl, ISO CASCO member and consultant at Austrian Standards plus, addressed the delegates and gave a lecture on the subject of "ISO/IEC Guide 60:2004 – CA Code of Good Practice". The code contains recommendations on good practice for all elements of conformity assessment, including normative documents, bodies, systems, schemes and results. It is designed for individuals and bodies wishing to provide, promote and use reliable conformity assessment services whereby trade at international, regional and national levels is facilitated.

On the basis of his experience and recommendations from the said Guideline Wolfgang Höhnl was of an opinion that CABs must not base their activities only on the requirements of ISO 9000 or independently define requirements for conformity assessment or perform their activities without previously ensured conformity of subjects under assessment with specific requirements. Furthermore, he stressed that CABs must not publish confidential information on their clients or transfer competence in assessment and decision-making to Committees since in that case nobody will be responsible (collective responsibility issue) or delay review of applications or realisation of assessments without cause. However, they have to resolve complaints and appeals.

The said workshop was followed by the third Conformity Assessment Symposium (ICAS 2012) which was held in the period between 15th and 16th May in Istanbul and was hosted by the Turkish Association for Conformity Assessment (UDDer) within the frame of the EU funded project entitled "Strengthening the Quality Infrastructure in Turkey". ICAS 2012 aimed at bringing together representatives from institutions and organisations operating in the field of conformity assessment in the European Union and Turkey with representatives from industry and other related institutions in order to enable them to discuss the developments in the field of accreditation (testing and certification), standardization and metrology. During the two day symposium the evaluations will be made on the global trends in the field of conformity assessment and on the role and place of Turkey in this field. In addition, the organisation of separate sessions was envisaged for construction materials, environment and energy, agriculture and information and communication technology sectors to further develop conformity assessment in these sectors.

The Team Leader of the said IPA project, David Norris, presented the conclusions from the workshop held on 14th May when problems faced by CABs were presented given that they were related to notification bodies establishing their branches abroad and thus required to closely monitor the work at foreign locations, unfair competition, recognition of certificates issued by foreign CABs that are accredited by ABs members of the European co-operation for Accreditation, resolution of ethical issues in non-harmonised areas, and many other issues to be solved at the international level. It was agreed that it was necessary to organise a workshop to set up a regional association of conformity assessment bodies and that it was necessary that the IAF, EA and EC provide help in this area.

Special guests of the symposium were Merih Malmqvist Nilsson, Chair of the EA Horizontal Harmonisation Committee (EA HHC), Silvia Vaccaro, DG Enterprise Policy Officer (Standardization Unit), and Jacques McMillan, former Head of the Unit (DG Enterprise and Industry - Regulatory Policy for the free movement of goods).

Merih Malmqvist Nilsson introduced the participants to the novelties in the European co-operation for Accreditation and obligations of the national accreditation bodies and to the EA membership requirements, cross-frontier accreditation and flexible scopes.

Silvia Vaccaro explained that the EU policy in the field of standardization was one of twelve key activities defined in the Single Market Act and that standards supported the development of numerous fields in the EU: competitiveness, innovation, environmental protection, transport, energy, consumer protection, small and medium-sized enterprises, etc. The European Commission coordinates the drafting of the policy in field of standardization, promotes the use of European standards whereby improving the EU legislation and policies to increase the competitiveness level of the EU industry and CEN/CENELEC/ETSI mandate period, provides financial resources for the operation of CEN/CENELEC/ETSI. Standardization system will take on the key role in numerous fields, but it has to become flexible, efficient and up-to-date, whereas it will be necessary to improve cooperation with the European organizations for standardization (CEN-CENELEC-ETSI) and to provide participation of consumers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and environmental organisations.

Jacques McMillan said that the new legislative package was adopted in 2008 to amend chapters governing accreditation, market surveillance and import control in order to prevent marketing of dangerous products. He explained the importance of market surveillance and why it was necessary to amend the "New Approach" by EC Regulation 765/2008 and by means of stipulating requirements for accreditation, market surveillance and import control. Thus, the responsibilities for all participants were clearly defined, including their obligation to cooperate with competent authorities, role of the Customs authorities, duty to inform (RAPEX/ICSMS) and to cooperate with other Member States. However, for products and market to be safe it was not enough to perform only conformity assessment activities but it would be necessary to enable coordination and exchange of information, and to establish relationships between the internal and external control of products.