Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

European Ombudsman demands EFSA admits failure over revolving door

  • Dansk
  • Nederlands
  • English
  • Suomi
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Ελληνικά
  • Italiano
  • Bokmål
  • Polski
  • Portuguese
  • Română
  • Slovenščina
  • Español
  • Svenska

Munich/ Brussels, 8 December 2011: The European Ombudsman has ruled in favour of a complaint filed by Testbiotech against the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regarding its approach to the 'revolving door'. The case concerns a former senior staff member at EFSA, Dr Suzy Renckens, who was head of the unit responsible for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants for five years until 2008. Dr Renckens, a Belgian national, then moved to a job at Syngenta, a company that produces and markets these plants. The European Ombudsman has now agreed with Testbiotech's complaint and ruled that “EFSA should acknowledge that it failed to observe the relevant procedural rules and to carry out a sufficiently thorough assessment of the potential conflict of interests arising from the move of a former member of its staff to a biotechnology company”[1]. 

“The ruling from the Ombudsman shows in detail that EFSA failed to fulfill its obligations,” said Christoph Then from Testbiotech. “We are very concerned that both EFSA and the Commission have tried to deny their responsibilities in this case by rejecting our original complaints. The authority and the European Commission, which backs EFSA, are eroding confidence in European institutions. In consequence they are putting at risk the protection of consumers and the environment.”

Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory said: “There have been other cases of staff going through the revolving door; EFSA should look carefully at the ruling and introduce a far stricter approach to conflicts of interest in the future. The Ombudsman makes some important recommendations which should lead to changes in how revolving door rules are implemented across the EU institutions, including at the Commission. We continue to see further scandalous revolving doors cases [2] and it is vital that the EU institutions, starting with the Commission, put improved rules and procedures in place to prevent future conflicts of interest, including a cooling off period of several years. It is time for a new start. No more business as usual.”

The Suzy Renckens case was made public by Testbiotech in November 2009 and the complaint was supported by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) and Lobbycontrol (in Germany)[3]. EFSA now has until 31 March 2012 to respond to the judgement of the EU Ombudsman who has the power to table the issue in the European Parliament.

ENDS

Contact:

Testbiotech: Christoph Then, Tel +49 15154638040, info@testbiotech.org

CEO: Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory, tel: +32 28 93 09 30, mobile: +32 489 596 478

Notes:

[1] A link to the full ruling from the European Ombudsman can be found here: http://www.testbiotech.de/en/node/588

[2] CEO's RevolvingDoorWatch was launched on 7 December and it presents details of many other revolving door cases, including other cases at EFSA, and others concerning food industry lobbyists: http://www.corporateeurope.org/projects/revolvingdoorwatch

[3] All documents related to this complaint can be found here: http://www.testbiotech.de/independence

Related issues: 
 
The way in which the Commission has appointed the head of its “in-house think-tank” has demonstrated its woefully inadequate conflict of interest assessment for new appointments, says Corporate Europe Observatory. The conflict of interest assessment applied to the former chief of the Lisbon Council, Ann Mettler as head of the new European Political Strategy Center (EPSC) does not appear to have explored her close cooperation with some of the biggest corporate players in the digital and technology market. In CEO's view, this casts serious doubts on the independence of the advice that is to be given to President Juncker and his college of commissioners.
The Alliance for Lobby Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) has today launched two new publications aimed at improving ethics and transparency in the European Parliament.
Jan Eric Frydman arrives with a CV that reads like the dream biography of an international corporate player, and is set to have a key role in steering the Commissioner's approach to TTIP.
NGOs have today responded to the Commission's reply to the European Ombudsman's recommendations on how to better handle revolving door cases within the Commission. In particular, they echo the demand for more transparency.
Press release

COP21 sponsors are not so climate friendly!

CEO joins NGOs in highlighting concerns that the talks are being captured by big polluters.
While large energy companies are quick to spend heavily on lavish conferences, they are much less forthcoming when it comes to transparency of their lobby activities. This article looks at some of the most important energy companies lobbying the EU and tracks their disclosures in the EU’s voluntary lobby transparency register in 2013 and 2014.
An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics as well as the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage.
Group aims to closely follow the developments on Better Regulation and the initiatives and actions from the Commission, Parliament and Member States in this area.

Alternative Trade Mandate

Corporate Europe Forum