Article 10.1 of the Regulation (EC) 391/2009 on Common Rules & Standards for Ship Inspection and Survey Organizations
A Statement from the EU RO MR Group on the Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council (Pursuant to Article 10.2)
Friday, October 23, 2015
The EU RO MR Group is pleased to receive the European Commission's Report on the implementation of Article 10.1 of the Regulation (EC) 391/2009 regarding the development of a system of mutual recognition of class certificates for marine equipment, materials and components.
In particular the EU RO MR Group has learned with satisfaction that the conclusion reached by the Commission is that the mutual recognition scheme developed by the EU Recognized Organizations (EU ROs) is compliant with the Regulation, and confirms that the huge amount of effort and resources invested by the EU ROs over the past 6 years has resulted in a scheme that is robust and fit for purpose. Also it is noted with appreciation that the Commission has emphasized that safety should be central to mutual recognition and, in this with regard, the EU ROs have developed a scheme based on the same assumption, with all activities directed towards ensuring that highest levels of safety are instituted, maintained and promoted.
However, there are some issues in the report that require specific comments and clarification from the EU RO MR Group, namely:
- 6 months pilot study for level 4 products
The report alludes to the plan for the EU ROs to conduct "a 6 month pilot study to ensure that safety is maintained at the higher (4th) level."
The EU RO MR Group wishes to clarify that there has never been an announcement on the intention to conduct a study relevant to risk assessment for potential inclusion of level 4 products into the MR scheme. The EU ROs do, however, seek to gain more practical experience of MR certification for existing level 3 products for the foreseeable future, as agreed by all stakeholders including the European Commission at the MR workshop in London in May 2014.
The EU RO MR Group considers that the development of an advanced and comprehensive risk model for the selection of level 4 'products' will require a more enhanced and progressive approach to risk assessment with significant input from various stakeholders at all stages, but at this point it is difficult to assign a realistic timeframe for such study if it is confirmed that this is indeed the agreed way forward for MR.
- Phasing out of individual Type Approval Certificates (TAC) and substitution by MR Type Approval certificates (MR TACs)
There is no obligation for EU ROs to harmonize the rules in accordance with article 10.1 - the obligation is limited to consultations and mutual recognition of class certificates in 'appropriate cases' and the issuance of individual TACs is considered to be part of the private commercial business for each EU RO providing certification services.
Because the MR scheme is only enforceable for EU flagged ships, there is no logical reason to phase out individual TACs because the global acceptance of the current MR scheme still remains uncertain.
The EU ROs will not actively promote one type approval scheme over another as it is up to the manufacturer to decide which type of service offered by EU ROs is the most suitable for their business needs in cases where MR TAC is available.
- Transparency of Costs associated with MR certification
As the EU ROs are competitors, any matters relating to prices (actual or potential), costs, compensation levels, suppliers, markets, business strategy, terms of sale, upcoming bids, capacity levels or similar are considered to be commercial issues and are, therefore, strictly out of the scope for discussion by the EU RO MR Group within the framework of Article 10.1.
- Promotion of the MR scheme
External promotion of any kind of technical and procedural matters of the Mutual Recognition scheme is not considered to be part of the agreed activity or responsibility of the EU RO MR Group within the context of MR implementation according to Article 10.1 of Reg. 391/2009.
Any promotion of the MR scheme is limited to internal procedural steps to be taken by the individual EU ROs in order to be compliant with the requirements and latest developments of Article 10.1. Information about MR procedural and technical issues is available from each individual EU RO.
With regard to raising awareness of the MR scheme, both externally and internally, the EU RO MR Group has created a dedicated website where controlled versions of all procedural and technical details are available public to all interested parties. In addition, the EU RO MR Group frequently issues a newsletter outlining the latest steps taken and supported by additional information regarding technical and procedural updates and industry consultation activities.
- Time to obtain a MR Type Approval Certificate (MR TAC)
The time required to obtain a MR TAC can vary in each particular case and, from the perspective of the EU ROs, the time needed to complete each step of the certification process is as a general principle aimed to be as short as possible based on normal commercial principles.
However, there are many factors that have an impact on the processing time - inter alia, the quality and timely submission of the required documentation submitted by the manufacturer is a major factor. If the product design does not comply with the MR technical requirements, the technical documentation needs to be revised and re-submitted to the EU RO and the EU RO is not able to influence the timeframe of corrective actions to be carried out by the client. This revision and resubmission of documentation by the manufacturer can substantially prolong the overall time needed to obtain the MR certificate. These factors are also experienced in other certification services and the time for obtaining MR TAC is generally not considered to take any longer in comparison.
The MR Technical Requirements (TRs) are publicly available and a company that is planning to acquire the MR TAC has an opportunity to review these requirements and make necessary preparations (e.g. undergo its own evaluation of compliance and introduce necessary changes to the design, perform additional tests etc.) prior to making a formal application to the EU RO for MR Type Approval. The EU RO MR Group also has a formal Request for Clarification Process that is designed to provide a consolidated response to queries relating to the MR technical requirements and related processes.
- Presence of an EU RO's Surveyors during tests (witness testing)
Witness testing is a general requirement of MR type approval when the tests are carried out at the manufacturer's premises, and the extent of witnessing is specified in each applicable MR Technical Requirement.
However, in cases where the tests are conducted at a Nationally Accredited Laboratory (the scope of accreditation must cover the relevant applicable standards) the presence of the EU RO's surveyor may be omitted in accordance with the Appendix V item 6 of the 'EU RO Framework Document for the Mutual Recognition of Type Approval'. The EU RO MR Group has already reviewed all 44 agreed MR technical Requirements (i.e. Tiers 1‐4) in terms of the level of witness testing required and this is summarised below:
- 8 MR TRs require witness testing by the EU ROs surveyor in accordance with the 'most demanding and rigorous' principle of article 10.1;
- 24 MR TRs include the proviso that 'in cases where the tests are conducted at a Nationally Accredited Laboratory (the scope of accreditation must cover the relevant applicable standards) the presence of the EU RO's surveyor may be omitted';
- 12 MR TRs have no explicit requirements for witness testing at present.
This 'relaxation' of the witness testing requirements for the majority of MR TRs was based on feedback from industry and came into effect as of March 2014. The EU RO MR Group is constantly reviewing the MR process in order to improve its accuracy and consistency based on our own experience and on feedback received from stakeholders and the general requirements for witness testing across the portfolio of new and existing MR TRs is one such area under close review.
The EU RO MR Group has always been open to dialogue with all stakeholders, particularly the marine technology Industry, on MR issues and is actively cooperating with manufacturers and their regional or national associations where appropriate. This is demonstrated by the significant number of meetings, workshops and consultations carried out by the EU ROs.
The involvement of the marine technology Industry is essential during the MR technical requirement development stage and our Industry partners also have the opportunity to provide comments on existing TRs as well as suggestions for new products to be included into the MR scheme.
The EU RO MR Group is also working hard to further improve collaboration with all stakeholders and one such example is the proactive step taken by the group towards deeper technical cooperation through the introduction of Technical Review Meetings (TRMs), the first of which was held in St Petersburg at the end of April 2015.
The EU RO MR Group is committed to providing a transparent position on all feedback and comments it receives taking, when necessary, the required time to fully consider issues to ensure that the sovereignty of the individual EU ROs is not overruled in any way.
The EU RO MR Group is committed to continuing its cooperation with all stakeholders that have an interest in MR (including but not limited to, manufacturers, shipowners, flag administrations, insurers, national marine equipment and shipbuilding associations) in order to fully and effectively achieve a mutually agreed understanding of the MR scheme within the framework of article 10.1 and to investigate an agreed way forward for MR without compromising safety.
Further queries relating to Mutual Recognition should be directed to the EU RO MR Group Secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org.
View the statement in PDF here