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The European co-operation for Accreditation Multilateral Agreement (EA MLA) continued to grow and extend its scope in 2019. EA welcomed a new signatory – our special congratulations to the Egyptian Accreditation Council (EGAC). 43 economies are now signatories.
Paulo Tavares of the Portuguese Institute for Accreditation (IPAC), Chair of the EA Multilateral Agreement Council (EA MAC), reported the following highlights:
“Since 2017, EA has paved the way for expanding the scope of the EA MLA for Reference Materials Producers (RMP) according to EN ISO 17034. After the first peer evaluations and the first members were recognised as successfully evaluated during 2018, the EA MLA could be launched for this scope in May 2019 with an initial seven signatories.
Last November, the General Assembly decided to extend the EA MLA under “Validation and Verification” to include the new EN ISO/IEC 17029: Conformity Assessment – General Principles and Requirements for Validation and Verification Bodies as a new EA MLA Level 3 standard. EA looks forward to addressing the technical challenges to operationalise this standard in 2020.
EA has made solid progress in its work to improve the peer evaluation process. Since a significant number of trainee team members were able to be assigned to peer evaluations, there was no need to organise a newcomer training session in 2019 to boost EA’s pool of evaluators. We pass our thanks to the peer evaluation teams and to the hosting NABs. Training efforts were focused on refresher sessions including one for team leaders and deputy team leaders, which was particularly important considering the on-going EN ISO/IEC 17011 transition.
Peer evaluations against the revised EN ISO/IEC 17011 have been progressing well, with a third of EA MLA signatories having successfully made the transition. The decisions regarding the other EA MLA signatories’ transition must be completed by November 2020.
EA has also increased its recognition of MRA scopes in the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). The formal decision on EA’s peer evaluation by ILAC in favour of the extension of its MRA signatory status to accreditation of proficiency testing providers (PTP) was made in May 2019, when EA became the first regional co-operation body member of the ILAC MRA for accreditation of PTP against ISO/IEC 17043.
Finally, the full re-evaluation of EA by ILAC and IAF, which includes the scope extension for RMP, identified no non-conformities and one concern that has subsequently been closed.
The COVID-19 pandemic will impact conformity assessment infrastructure. EA will work to ensure that it maintains a robust but agile accreditation and peer-evaluation system that is vital to maintain the confidence in the public service that we provide.”
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