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UKAS’s membership of the European Cooperation for Accreditation confirmed

UKAS is delighted to announce that following the passing of a Resolution at the European Cooperation for Accreditation (EA) General Assembly on 25th November 2021, UKAS’s continued membership of EA has been assured.

UKAS’s membership of EA, the association of national accreditation bodies for the European region[1], had been under review following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in 2020. The EA and UKAS were keen that UKAS remained a member and the Articles of Association had therefore been amended to extend UKAS’s membership for an additional two years while a permanent solution was found. UKAS has been working closely with its European partners during this period to reach agreement on the membership criteria within the Articles. The permanent solution has now been agreed, with a new approach to the membership criteria that sets a geographic base, centred around membership of the Council of Europe, rather than a political base of national EU or EFTA membership or candidacy.

UKAS believes that continued membership of EA brings huge benefits to UKAS accredited bodies and to the UK. The main benefit is the EA Multilateral Agreement, MLA, where, with the exception of EU Regulations and Directives, our EA partners shall recognise UKAS accreditation and the reports/certificates of our accredited customers as being technically equivalent to their own. This should therefore see UKAS accredited work within the voluntary area continuing to be recognised across Europe.

Also, EA provides the European regional voice into the international accreditation groups: the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and International Accreditation Forum (IAF). The EA MLA enables UKAS to continue to be a signatory to the mutual recognition arrangements operated by ILAC and IAF, providing our customers with world-wide coverage. UKAS also benefits from participation in a range of committees looking at benchmarking and improving process, sharing best practice, and developing new areas of accreditation to meet the changing needs of society.

Recognising the need for a compromise on the membership rules, from 2022 UKAS will continue as an EA ‘Category B’ member with a reduction in certain rights such as the ability to vote on issues that impact on the EU and its single market.

UKAS’s position as the UK’s National Accreditation Body had previously been reconfirmed by Government following the changes to legislation relevant to accreditation in the UK. This is further supported by the Government’s Policy on Conformity Assessment and Accreditation in the UK, which continues to “require that where a UK CAB requests accreditation, it shall do so from UKAS as the sole NAB for the UK” and “recommends UK businesses, government and local authorities requiring third party conformity assessment services to source such services, where they exist, from conformity assessment bodies accredited by the UK NAB”.

On receiving confirmation of our continued membership, the UKAS Chairman, Lord Jamie Lindsay said “The confirmation of UKAS’s continued membership of EA is a positive move. UK businesses can continue to have their accredited conformity assessment recognised in regional and global supply chains and procurement, as now. This reflects and reinforces the international basis of accreditation in cooperation and mutual recognition.”