- Is UKAS still a recognised and valid accreditation body?
Yes. UKAS remains the UK’s National Accreditation Body, as appointed by the UK Accreditation Regulations.
It also remains a member of the European cooperation for Accreditation (EA), International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and is a signatory to the mutual recognition arrangements managed by each of these organisations.
The UK’s exit from the EU did not have any impact on UKAS’s status as an accreditation body nor its international recognition.
- Is UKAS accreditation still recognised within Europe?
As a signatory to the EA Multilateral Agreement (MLA) (as well as to those managed by ILAC and IAF), UKAS accreditation is still recognised by other signatories to the MLA as technically equivalent to their own.
However, the European Commission requires accreditation in support of regulation to be provided by an accreditation body established within the EU (or EFTA). Therefore, UKAS does not provide accreditation services in support of EU legislation such as Directives for Notified Bodies or regulated schemes such as EU ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme), and UKAS accreditation would not be recognised for this purpose.
The regulated sector only makes up a small part of the demand for accredited conformity assessment, with the majority being within the voluntary sector. There are no restrictions on recognition of accreditation within the voluntary area, as long as the accreditation body can demonstrate its competence through one of the recognised multilateral arrangements (i.e. those operated by EA, IAF or ILAC).
Therefore, UKAS accreditation is still recognised in Europe / EU, although this is primarily restricted to the voluntary area.
- What does “within the meaning of Regulation (EC) 765/2008” mean?
The EU policy on accreditation is that for the regulated area it must be in accordance with the EU Regulation on Accreditation and Market Surveillance (Regulation (EC) 765/2008). The definition within that Regulation states “‘national accreditation body’ shall mean the sole body in a Member State that performs accreditation with authority derived from the State;”.
As the UK is no longer a Member State of the EU then this has been interpreted as meaning that UKAS is not recognised as a national accreditation body where accreditation is required to be undertaken in accordance with Regulation (EC) 765/2008, i.e. with respect to EU regulations and also by some national regulations that call up Regulation (EC) 765/2008.
Therefore, statements along the lines of “UKAS accreditation is not valid within the meaning of Regulation (EC) 765/2008” means that UKAS accreditation is not recognised within the EU regulatory framework. This does not apply to voluntary areas.
- Is UKAS accredited certification valid across Europe?
As UKAS is a signatory to the EA MLA, certificates issued by UKAS-accredited certification bodies should be accepted as valid across Europe unless these certificates are being used to support EU, or in some cases national, legislation.
Where the underlying legislation calls up accreditation in accordance with Regulation (EC) 765/2008 then it is unlikely that such certificates shall be accepted. However, in the voluntary area there is no such restrictions, and certificates issued under UKAS accreditation should be recognised as equally applicable as certificates issued under an EU accreditation body.
- Can UKAS accredited CABs undertake conformity assessment activities subcontracted by EU Notified Bodies in support of EU product Directives?
Yes, the requirement is on the Notified Body being accredited by their local accreditation body rather than subcontractors. It is up to the Notified Body to determine the competence of the body which it subcontracts work to: This can include recognition of the body through the EA MLA. There is no requirement that the subcontracted body has to be established within the EU or that any accreditation that they hold has been granted by the national accreditation body of an EU Member State.
Article TBT.6: Conformity assessment of the EU-UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement specifically states that Parties to the Agreement shall:
“allow conformity assessment bodies to use subcontractors to perform testing or inspections in relation to the conformity assessment, including subcontractors located in the territory of the other Party, and may require subcontractors to meet the same requirements the conformity assessment body must meet to perform such testing or inspections itself;”
- What impact has the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling (May 2021) had on recognition of the conformity assessment activities of UK accredited CABs across Europe?
The ECJ ruling has had no impact upon UKAS-accredited CABs established in the UK above what was already understood following Brexit.
The Ruling relates to recognition of CABs based in the EU who have not sought accreditation from their local accreditation body (the onus being on the CAB): It does not address CABs that are established outside of the EU. Within the UK, the EU requirement over seeking accreditation from the local accreditation body is mirrored in Government policy on conformity assessment and accreditation, and hence UK CABs are obliged to seek accreditation from UKAS. As a result, it is recognised that UK CABs shall seek their accreditation from UKAS, and that as UKAS is a signatory to the EA MLA its accredited bodies can provide their services across Europe.
The ECJ ruling emphasises the point that UKAS cannot provide accreditation to CABs in the EU (which was already the case pre-Brexit as a consequence of the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) policy on cross-border accreditation).
- Is UKAS accreditation recognised in national legislation of EU Member States?
This is up to the national authority involved and will depend upon the requirements within the text of the legislation.
If the national legislation is in support of EU Regulation or Directive, or if it specifically calls up accreditation in accordance with Regulation (EC) 765/2008 then it is unlikely that UKAS accreditation would be accepted.
If the legislation is purely for national purposes, and no reference to Regulation (EC) 765/2008 is made, then confirmation should be sought from the national authority. The fact that UKAS is a signatory to the EA MLA should support recognition of UKAS accredited certificates/reports although it should be noted that national authorities are under no legal obligation to recognise the MLA (which is also the case for the UK Government).