SC Meeting in Ljubljana

Geneva (19 March 2019):  The 84th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on 14 March 2019 under the chairmanship of Ms. Dalia Yarom (Israel). The meeting was opened by Mr. Franc Stanonik, General Director, Internal Market, Ministry for Economic Development & Technology, Republic of Slovenia; and Dr. Samo Kopa─Ź, Director, Metrology Institute of Republic of Slovenia.  It was attended by 56 officials representing all Contracting States, 1 Applicant State (Italy) as well as guests from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Russia.

The Technical Annexes enter into force

The SC noted that the implementation process of the revised Convention's Technical Annexes (and related Compilation of Technical Decisions) was still ongoing in 6 out of 20 Contracting States.  These are: Austria, Cyprus, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Slovak Republic.  In the absence of any notification by the Depositary indicating that an objection had been received, the revised Annexes entered into force on 1 January 2019.  In line with the revised Annexes, the SC accepted a query by the Norwegian Assay Office to subcontract its testing competence to another authorised Assay Office, provided that the volume of articles to be marked does not increase and that the Assay Office, to which the testing competence will be subcontracted, complies with the conditions of the Technical Decisions.  The SC also approved a pragmatic approach regarding the reproduction of the new standardised Common Control Mark (CCM), which has been introduced in the revised Annexes.  It mandated the Standing Technical Group (STG) to draft guidelines in order to ensure consistency in the reproduction of the CCM and to keep the drawings safe.  The SC discussed the interpretation to be given to Article 11(5) of the Convention, which does not explicitly set a deadline for the communication of possible objections regarding the revision of the Convention’s Annexes.  The SC agreed that any objection to the revised Annexes must be communicated within a period of 3 months to the Depositary. 

Italy to join in the course of the year

The SC reviewed the accession process of Italy, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.  Italy reported that it should be able to ratify the Convention before the next SC meeting.  No progress was reported on the ratification process of Serbia, which was not represented at the SC meeting.  A new Head of the Assay Office is in the process of being appointed in Sri Lanka: it is hoped that once this has materialised, the long-scheduled technical follow-up visit will eventually take place.  The ratification of the Convention in Ukraine is allegedly blocked by the Office of the President while it is supported by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The SC Chairperson will write to Ukraine once the presidential elections have taken place in Ukraine.

New Working Groups (Model Law and Vision & Strategy)

The SC decided to establish a new Working Group on Model Law, which will comprise Members from Croatia, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.  It will be chaired by Ms. Nataša Mejak-Vukovic (Slovenia).  The model law should make it easier for other States, wishing to accede to the Convention, to introduce a legislative framework on the control of precious metal articles.

The SC noted that comments from 8 Ministries (out of 20) had been received following the consultation of Contracting States on the future Vision and Strategy of the Convention.  The SC decided to re-establish the Working Group on Vision and Strategy in order to review these comments and make recommendations on the implementation of the proposed vision and strategy.  The Working Group will comprise Members from Cyprus, Ireland, Israel, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Merger with the IAAO

The SC discussed a joint paper by the SC Chairperson and the Chairman of the International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO), which proposed to integrate the IAAO into the Convention.  Comments received in writing from the Visegrad Group of Assay Offices (GV4) as well as the Spanish Association of Assay Offices (KRISOS) were reviewed.  After some discussions, the SC agreed in principle to integrate the IAAO and grant their Members a special status.  The IAAO was invited to vote by written procedure on the merger so that the necessary arrangements can be adopted at the next SC meeting.

Round Robin

The Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), reported on its 24th meeting held by teleconference on 31 January 2019, during which it discussed the technical specifications of Type 2 CCM as well as a rework project of the Round Robin (RR) Portal.  The project was also endorsed in principle by the SC and will have to be approved by the IAAO by written procedure.  The RRs are run by the STG but financed by the IAAO.  The STG also reviewed, by written procedure, investigations and corrective actions taken by Assay Offices, which exceeded permissible limits during the last RR