Accreditation is the last level of public control in the European conformity assessment system. It is designed to ensure that conformity assessment bodies (e.g. laboratories, inspection or certification bodies) have the technical capacity to perform their duties. Used in regulated sectors and voluntary areas, accreditation increases trust in conformity assessment. It reinforces the mutual recognition of products, services, systems, and bodies across the EU.
Accreditation of conformity assessment bodies is based on harmonised standards defining competence criteria for:
Requirements for accreditation are set in Regulation 765/2008. The Regulation promotes a uniformly rigorous approach to accreditation across EU countries. This consensus is normally reflected in a CERTIF document on a specific topic. As a result, an accreditation certificate is enough to demonstrate the technical capacity of a conformity assessment body.
The main principles of accreditation are:
National accreditation bodies are members of the European co-operation for accreditation (EA) that cooperates with the Commission. EA's tasks include: