Each member state of the European Union has a national accreditation body. In the Netherlands it is the RvA. Our primary task consists of accrediting and renewing the accreditations of conformity-assessment bodies: laboratories, inspection bodies, certification bodies and verification bodies. This is to ensure that trust in the quality of products and services is genuinely justified.
The RvA is a private organisation. In 2010 the Dutch government appointed the RvA as the national accreditation body based on European Regulation 765/2008. Since then the RvA has become an independent government agency that answers to the Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate. As an independent organisation and independent government agency the RvA is a non-profit organisation.
The RvA was founded in 1995 following a multi-party merger involving:
Our clients are conformity-assessment bodies:
Conformity-assessment bodies assess whether products and services from suppliers meet the specified requirements. They do this for every imaginable field of work: health, environment, constructions, energy, food, transport and finance, to name but a few. In the event of a positive assessment the supplier is issued with a statement of conformity in the form of a certificate or report.
It is important that conformity-assessment bodies are expert, impartial and independent because only then statements they issue are useful and reliable. The RvA therefore checks that these bodies meet the European (EN) and international (ISO or ISO/IEC) standards. If they do they receive an accreditation mark – an audit of the audit.
You will find a list of all of our clients in the list of accredited bodies.
When assessing conformity-assessment bodies we distinguish between different disciplines:
The way in which a conformity assessment is conducted therefore differs greatly. For example it can involve testing a sample in a laboratory, measuring the critical components of a complex installation, analysing an organisation and its production processes or having people sit examinations. The subjects are also very diverse. Accreditation ranges from DNA testing to websites, from free-range eggs to career advisers, from lifts to asbestos inspections and so on. And our field of work is expanding constantly.
There are various stakeholders in the field of accreditation:
Good interaction with these stakeholders is essential for ensuring the further development of trust. That applies to trust in the bodies accredited by the RvA as well as trust within our own society. The RvA is therefore in regular contact with stakeholders, for example via the Advisory Panel of Stakeholders.
The cooperation with the business sector was already there from the establishment of the RvA in 1995 as a private foundation (and before that by its legal predecessors). Apart from a representative delegation of the business sector in supervisory bodies such as the Advisory Panel of Stakeholders and the User Council consultation structures have been set up with various organisations including Fenelab, NVCi, NEN Medical Laboratories Committee and external scheme owners.
The cooperation with the public sector (policy-makers and inspectorates) is in line with the revised Cabinet position on conformity assessment and accreditation, to pursue an integrated approach to the supervision of public interests. A more efficient organisation of supervision is in line with this, also to keep the supervision burden for companies as low as possible. A proper mutual information exchange forms a major part of this. Therefore more parties are expected to be willing to agree an information protocol with the RvA such as for instance in the middle of 2017 when one was signed with the NEa.
For many years the RvA has been cooperating with (external) scheme owner. External scheme owners are parties which are not themselves conformity assessment bodies (CABs). In some spheres of work the market and/or the public sector opted to have a centrally harmonised scheme developed and managed by an external scheme owner. The external scheme owner brings together the interested parties with regard to the subject of conformity assessment, so that there is support for the respective scheme in the market.
The scheme owner subsequently enters into agreements for the use of the scheme with one or more CABs. The purpose of an external scheme owner is usually to achieve a so-called ‘level playing field’ in a sector and to increase the harmonisation between the CABs.