According to Regulation (EU) 765/2008, accreditation means the attestation by a National Accreditation Body that a Conformity Assessment Body meets the requirements set by harmonised standards and, where applicable, any additional requirements including those set out in relevant sectoral schemes, to carry out a specific conformity assessment activity.
Accreditation operates in the public interest across all market sectors. It provides an attestation that accredited bodies offering testing, examination, calibration, certification, inspection and verification services have the technical competence and impartiality to check the conformity of products and services with the relevant standards and regulations.
For example, products are manufactured in conformity with specific quality, security or safety requirements. Laboratories or certifiers check and confirm that conformity. Reports and certificates that go with products can be trusted readily when they are issued by accredited laboratories or certifiers.
Confidence in the products and services, irrespective of where they come from, is based on accreditation thanks to the existing multilateral agreements signed by National Accreditation Bodies (NAB) in Europe and at worldwide level.
When signatories recognise that the accreditation they deliver can be trusted equally, it means that products do not need to be re-tested or re-certified on every new market: tested once, certified once by an accredited lab or certifier means acceptable everywhere. Through accreditation and harmonised application of standards, consumers can therefore have confidence in the products and services they purchase on the European market.
Annex II, Chapter XIX of the EEA Agreement provides the legal basis for accreditation within the EEA. Regulation 765/2008 is of particular importance.
EA, the European co-operation for Accreditation, is a not-for-profit association which is formally appointed by the European Commission in Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 to develop and maintain a multilateral agreement of mutual recognition, the EA MLA, based on a harmonised accreditation infrastructure, in order to facilitate fair trade, ensure product and service quality and reduce technical barriers to trade.
The EA Members are National Accreditation Bodies (NAB) that are officially recognised by their national governments to assess and verify – against international standards – organisations that carry out conformity assessment activities such as certification, verification, inspection, testing and calibration.
EFTA supports EA financially, in parallel with the European Commission, through a Framework Partnership Agreement and annual Operating Grants.
For more information, see also:
DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) - Accreditation of conformity assessment bodies