SC Meeting in Porto

Geneva (26 October 2017): The 81st SC meeting took place in Porto (Portugal) on 23 October 2017 under the chairmanship of Ms. Dalia Yarom (Israel).  The meeting was attended by 49 officials representing the 19 Contracting States and 2 out of 5 Applicant States (Serbia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine did not attend).

The SC re-elected Ms Dalia Yarom (Standards Institution of Israel), Mr Ashley Carson (Sheffield Assay Office) and Ms Maria Magdalena Ulaczyk (Polish Regional Assay Office of Warsaw) for the respective positions of SC Chairperson, First Deputy Chairman and Second Deputy Chairperson for a 2-year term starting on 1 January 2018 and ending on 31 December 2019.  It also re-elected the Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), for a 2-year term as well 4 STG Members (from the Assay Offices of Edinburgh, Latvia, Sheffield, and Warsaw) and 5 Corresponding Members (from the Cyprus, Czech, Danish, Irish and Krakow Assay Offices).

The SC reviewed the accession of Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Sri Lanka and the Ukraine. Good news was reported on Croatia and Italy:

- Croatia informed the SC that it is about to complete the accession process.

- Following discussions between Italy and the Czech Republic at ministerial level, the Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry has agreed in principle to lift its objection to the accession of Italy to the Convention.  The SC has agreed to consult the Depositary on the exact procedure in order to lift the Czech objection so that the issue can be formally resolved.

No progress was, however, reported on the accession of Serbia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine (all not attending).

The SC agreed in substance on the revision of the Convention's Technical Annexes and the related Compilation of Technical Decisions. The finalised text will be presented at the next SC meeting in Stockholm. In the meantime, some minor issues as well as the translation of the texts into French will have to be addressed. The revised Technical Annexes will then be formally notified to Contracting States by the Depositary and enter into force at a date agreed by Contracting States.

The revised Technical Annexes will allow for the sub-contracting of testing to other Convention's Assay Offices, subject to a number of conditions.  This delegation is particularly relevant for the testing of palladium or platinum articles, for which there is not much demand.  They will also introduce the obligation for Convention's Assay Offices, which are not accredited to ISO 17025, to meet the main requirements of accreditation, in particular in terms of having a quality management system. The SC also managed to find a compromise on the issue of XRF testing and adopted Guidelines, which specify the conditions under which XRF testing can be used under the Convention. It also agreed on the design of the new standardised Common Control Mark (CCM) to be introduced in parallel to the exiting CCM marks.

The Chairperson of the Working Group on Vision and Strategy (WGVS), Ms Valentina Valestany (SWEDAC), briefed Members on the 4th meeting held in Geneva (Switzerland) on 31 March 2017. Another meeting was held just after the SC meeting in Porto. The WGVS will present the outcome of its discussions on the SWOT analysis (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) at the next SC meeting in Stockholm.

The Standing Technical Group (STG) reported on its 21st meeting held in Bern (Switzerland) on 17 August 2017 under the chairmanship of Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office).  The STG reviewed proposals regarding the amendment of the Convention's Annexes and related Technical Decisions and discussed a number of investigations and corrective action taken by Assay Offices, which exceeded permissible limits during the last interlaboratory proficiency testing scheme on precious metals (Round Robin - RR).  Based on the STG's recommendation, the SC was able to adopt revised Guidelines on RR and new guidelines on the safekeeping of CCM software. It also endorsed the job description for STG Members and Corresponding Members as well as the STG's work programme.

The next SC meeting will take place in Stockholm (Sweden) on 20 April 2018.