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The Warsaw Voice » Business » December 21, 2011
Special Section: PCA
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Accreditation Experts Flock to Warsaw
December 21, 2011   
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An organization called the European co-operation for Accreditation held its 28th General Assembly in Warsaw Nov. 23-24 to sum up its policies and map out future trajectories.

“Thanks for all of the excellent arrangements that you and the staff of PCA made for the meetings of the Executive Committee and the General Assembly... I thought the meetings went extremely well and I am sure this was a reflection of all the hard work that you and your staff had put into their organisation.” -excerpt from a letter from Graham Talbot, chairman of the European co-operation for Accreditation, to Eugeniusz W. Roguski, director of the Polish Centre for Accreditation (PCA)

The European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) is a nonprofit association established in 1997 that aims to “provide an effective accreditation infrastructure” in Europe. Registered in the Netherlands, the EA forms a network of nationally recognized accreditation bodies across Europe. At the moment, it brings together 33 organizations representing various EU and EFTA member countries.

The association says it works to define, harmonize and build consistency in accreditation as a service in Europe, by ensuring common interpretation of the standards used by its members. This includes the accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories and of certification and inspection bodies.

Under a regulation approved by the European Parliament in 2008 and in effect since January 2010, the EA is the body recognized to provide the official accreditation infrastructure within Europe.

The association’s Warsaw GA, which was hosted by the Polish Centre for Accreditation (PCA), attracted EA members as well as officials from the European Commission and other institutions. Meeting participants discussed EA policies, took decisions on admitting new members, and tackled issues such as work with other organizations, in addition to guidelines for the organization’s development.

Graham Talbot, chairman of the European co-operation for Accreditation:
The Warsaw General Assembly aimed “to get the members, who are the national accreditation bodies from each of the member states, together, in order to be able to discuss activities and strategies for the future in terms of supporting the needs of the European marketplace within accreditation.”

“The national accreditation bodies are appointed formally within the member states to be the pinnacle of the conformity assessment... What that means is, each national accreditation body is there to ensure that those bodies that are providing evaluation services to society, to the economy, to trade, to business and to services, are all operating correctly. So the national accreditation body ensures that what is being delivered in terms of test reports or certificates regarding services are actually underpinning the needs of society at large within each of the member states. Accreditation is there to support trade, to facilitate trade, to ensure that society is protected in terms of safe products and services that are provided within each of the member states.”

Amid the latest crisis in the euro zone, “whatever happens in terms of solutions in Europe, trade is going to be an important aspect of those solutions. So increasing trade and having free trade amongst the member states and indeed between Europe and the rest of the world is very, very important.”

“Accreditation... provides the mechanisms for products and services to be moved across borders without further inspection, without further certification. And therefore it’s a trade facilitator; it underpins the free movement of trade, it reduces barriers to trade and technical barriers to trade, and therefore I see it as a part of that solution that will help Europe to trade itself out of the difficulties that exist at the moment, not only within Europe but also within the overall global infrastructure. So I see accreditation as being a very important part of the overall solution.”

(from a Polish Radio 1 interview with Talbot)
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