ESTONIAN NATIONAL ACCREDITATION SYSTEM
I. Start and course of development
The legal framework for establishment of the Estonian national accreditation system was created by a Government Decree of 7 December 1993, which stated that the confirmation of reliability of testing laboratories and certification bodies in Estonia is to be carried out according to the EN 45000 series of standards. Thus, our accreditation activity has been harmonized with the European principles from the very beginning. The Estonian National Standards Board (hereinafter EVS) was charged with the duties of a national accreditation body by the decree of the Minister of Finance from 25 February 1994.
EVS was established in September 1991 as a governmental institution subordinate to the Ministry of Finance (from 01.01.1996 to the Ministry of Economic Affairs). It was responsible for standardization, metrology and accreditation activities in Estonia.
The accreditation activity was operated by EVS following the recommendations of the Council for Certification and Accreditation at the EVS, which was active during 1993-1999. The Council (11 members in all) comprised leading specialists on testing and certification as well as representatives of EVS.
Considering the actual working level and capability of Estonian laboratories to comply with the requirements of EN 45001, it was decided by the Council to introduce as a temporary measure a two-step confirmation of reliability - recognition as the first step and accreditation as the second one. In its essence recognition reflected conformity to the national criteria of competency while accreditation to the international ones.
All the procedures for accreditation and recognition were described and the difference between accreditation and recognition requirements was indicated in the regulations and guidelines, endorsed by the abovementioned decree of the Minister of Finance.
The accreditation personnel consisted of 4 members of the EVS permanent staff (belonging to the EVS Department for Metrology and Accreditation) and some 60 assessors from outside EVS. The permanent staff and assessors have all been trained to the Western European requirements.
In order to create confidence in the Estonian accreditation, EVS has carried out joint assessments together with the Swedish, Finnish and German assessors of some (7) Estonian testing laboratories, three testing laboratories have both the EVS and a Western European (FINAS, DAP) accreditation.
Up to 1 January 2000, 18 testing laboratories, 2 calibration laboratories, 1 quality system certification body and 2 inspection bodies were accredited and 108 laboratories and 3 product certification bodies recognised by EVS.
Whereas the number of accredited (during 1993-1999) bodies was quite small, the assessment of laboratories and certification bodies seeking recognition enabled EVS to train technical assessors and maintain their competence.
In June 1998 EVS was accepted as an Associate Member of EA (European co-operation for Accreditation). In order to fulfil the criteria for Full Membership of EA and for a Signatory to an EA Multilateral Agreement (MLA), the Estonian national accreditation body should have become fully independent and impartial (i.e. accreditation activity separated from standardization) and ensured the internationally recognised traceability of measurements carried out by the accredited Estonian laboratories.

II. Further development
In 1999 the Estonian reference calibration laboratory Metrosert was accredited by both FINAS (January 1999) and EVS (May 1999) for all vital fields of measurements. So, since June 1999 the internationally recognised traceability of measurements carried out in Estonia was actually ensured.
The legal basis for the necessary organizational changes was created by the Revised Metrology Act, according to which a foundation has to be founded to carry out assess-ment of competence and accreditation of laboratories, which carry out measurements and metrological control of measuring instruments.
On the basis of the Revised Metrology Act the decision on establishment of a Foundation Estonian Accreditation Centre was taken by Government (on 21 December 1999). The Estonian Accreditation Centre (hereinafter EAK) was actually established by the Decision of the Minister of Economic Affairs from 4 January 2000.
According to its Statute the EAK is a non-profit private organization for carrying out accreditation and assessment of competence of laboratories, certification and inspec-tion bodies. In order to maintain the competence and experience acquired by the EVS accreditation personnel during 1993-1999, they all were employed as permanent staff members of EAK. As to the January 2004 the staff of EAK was 7.
In conjunction with transition of the accreditation function from EVS to EAK an important decision on accreditation policy was taken - to terminate the recognition system launched in 1993 by the date of liquidation of EVS (i.e. by March 31, 2000). This decision was favoured by the significant growth of awareness and recognition within the Estonian community of accreditation as a tool for creation of confidence in conformity assessment operators and by increased readiness of conformity assessment operators to meet the international criteria for accreditation.
To advise EAK on accreditation policy and oversee the implementation of it an Accreditation Council was set up in November 1999. The Council comprises representatives of ministries, universities, industry, employers, consumers and conformity assessment operators.
To advise EAK on technical issues of accreditation 4 technical committees were set up in May 2000 (since April 2009 5 permanent committees were in operation). Composition of the committees was renewed every 3 years. The statute of the technical committees was harmonized with the Accreditation Council and endorsed by the Director of EAK. Since 2015 the technical committees are operating on an ad hoc basis.

Up to September 1, 2016 the following institutions hold a valid EAK accreditation: 158 testing and 20 calibration laboratories, 24 certification and 49 inspection bodies, 2 PT-providers and 3 verification bodies (2 GHG + 1 EMAS).

As regards the international cooperation the main objective of EAK as a Full Member of EA is to become a Signatory to EA MLA and maintain this status. The relevant application was submitted by EAK in March 2001. In result of a peer evaluation carried out in March 2003 EAK became (on 12 March 2004) a Signatory to the EA Multilateral Agreement in the field of accreditation of laboratories and inspection bodies and further (on 18 March 2005) also in the field of accreditation of certification (product, personnel, QMS, EMS) bodies. So far EAK has succeeded to maintain this status and recently extended its signatory status to accreditation of GHG verification activity (since 10 April 2014).










  

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  • Estonian Accreditation Centre | Mäealuse 2/1 Tallinn 12618, ESTOINA | Phone: +372 6 021 801 | E-mail: info@eak.ee