Brussels in February
22 February 2019
As I am writing this, I am just back from the European ATEX Notified Body meeting in Brussels, held, as usual, in the first week in February. For the UK Notified Bodies present, there was still the question “Would this be our last meeting, or would there be a sensible Brexit deal?” All the UK bodies have produced their own “Plan B” in case of “No Deal”, so that they can continue to service their customers, but the lack of certainty does not help.
What was very heartening was the resolution taken by the meeting that, whatever the nature of Brexit, all UK bodies would be welcome to attend next year, even if only as observers. As it happens, even if the UK crashes out, the same individuals are likely to be attending on behalf of their EU body, as well as being an observer on behalf of their UK body.
In my case, I was also representing SGS Fimko Oy in Finland, and that allowed the meeting to re-elect me as vice chairman. Martin Thedens (PTB) was re-elected as chair and Thierry Houeix (Inneris) as the other vice chair. Although not in the constitution, it works well having the chair and vice chairs from different countries.
The role of each Notified Body Group in Europe (for each of the directives) is to work out ways of ensuring that things are done in similar ways, whichever Notified Body is doing it. So it mainly discusses processes for certification, but it can discuss interpretations of the directive and put recommendations to the European Commission.
In our case, this will then be discussed in the EU ATEX Working Group, with a view to producing text that can go in the next edition of the ATEX Guidelines document (available from the ATEX section of the Commission web site). If the subject concerns an interpretation of a standard, this will be referred directly to the Maintenance Team or committee responsible for that standard.
The meeting discussed issues related to the problem of dealing with QA assessments during the period when ISO 9001:2015 has compulsory application, but before the new EN ISO/IEC 80079-34 is published, later this year, and becomes harmonised.
It was agreed that it is not appropriate to use the current harmonised standard EN ISO/IEC 80079-34:2011, as it contains mandatory references to clauses in ISO 9001:2008 which has now been formally withdrawn.
As a harmonised standard cannot be used, the next available standard is ISO/IEC 80079-34:2018, which should be used as the reference document. The Notified Body group is satisfied that there are no requirements within ISO/IEC 80079-34:2018 that conflict with the requirements of the harmonised standard EN 80079-34:2011.