Mu­tu­al Recog­ni­tion Agree­ments (MRAs)

Which tasks do conformity assessment bodies (CABs) have under Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) ?

Improving the economic relationships with countries outside Europe is one of the European Community’s goals. Hence the elimination of trade barriers is one of its prime tasks. The type approval formerly required prior to placing on the market of telecommunications equipment has been superseded by the manufacturer’s declaration of cornformity upon which the placing on the market of a device is contingent (CE marking). With his declaration, the manufacturer confirms adherence of his product to all relevant European directives.

The conformity assessment procedures needed for the conformity declaration are largely harmonised within Europe. However, as far as third countries (outside the European Community) are concerned, in some instances there is still some way to go before this is achieved.

To improve the situation, two independent processes run in parallel:

On the one hand, in international standardisation bodies industry and state institutions are endeavouring to establish joint, generally valid technical regulations (e.g. CEN/CENELEC and ETSI at European level, ISO/IEC and ITU at international level), on the other, States interact directly (here, by way of example, the European Community with third countries) to achieve the mutual recognition of their conformity assessment procedures. The latter is especially important where it has not been possible to agree on joint regulations or if it will not be possible to draft such regulations in the foreseeable future for other reasons.

Under the mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures ("Mutual Recognition Agreement" (MRA)) a country carries out the conformity assessment procedures on its own territory in accordance with the other country’s rules and the other country recognises this procedure as if it had carried them out itself.

Example: In Germany a recognised conformity assessment body (CAB)) issues type approvals which are legally valid in the USA in exactly the same manner as those hitherto issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Telecommunication Certification Bodies (TCB) recognised by the FCC.

This illustrates the difference with technical harmonisation: Whereas an international standard takes years to compile before it is finally accepted and implemented by all parties concerned, it is the goal of mutual recognition arrangements to create a working basis for for mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures using the partner country’s regulations before this is achieved.

This also explains why recognition arrangements are basically similar but vary substantially in their practical implementation not only from one country to another but also from one sector to another within a single country (examples for sectors are telecommunications, EMC, electrical safety, medical equipment, food, pressure vessels, a.s.o.).

It is hence a conformity assessment body’s task to carry out conformity assessment procedures for a specific country and a specific sector in line with that country’s rules.

How is CAB status achieved?

The recognition as conformity assessment body may be applied for at the Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas, Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen (Federal Network Agency, formerly the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Posts). In this context, see Regulatory Authority Official Gazette No. 19/2001, page 2950, Communication No. 555/2001.

Lists of designated CABs

List of CABs designated under the MRA between the European Community and the USA

List of CABs designated under the MRA between the European Community and Australia

List of CABs designated under the MRA between the European Community and Canada

List of CABs designated under the MRA between the European Community and New Zealand

List of CABs designated under the MRA between the European Community and Japan

Date of modification: 2008.04.10