Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

European Ombudsman demands EFSA admits failure over revolving door

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: 
 
Story

A telling mistake

Ms Barbara Gallani, who will become EFSA's Director for Communications from 1 May, was up until late March 2016 working for the largest lobby group for the food and drink industry in the UK, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

CEO reviews recent developments in the Commission's approach to the revolving door.

Our reaction to European Commission report on revolving door issue.

As environment and energy ministers prepare to meet in Paris for the COP 21 climate change talks, CEO takes a look at how the revolving door ensures that the EU institutions remain close to Big Energy.

An Open Letter to Heads of State and Government of the European Union

You have probably never heard of AMISA2. But it turns out that AMISA2 and its predecessor AMISA have had staggeringly regular high-level access to senior EU decision-makers for decades. It is a quiet but persistent presence operating in the shadows of the Brussels bubble.

A revised Emissions Trading Directive is like red meat for the hungry pack of lobbyists that work the corridors of Brussels’ political institutions. Even minor differences in how pollution permits are handed out can result in profits or savings of millions of euros to big polluters.

Read our submission to the EU lobby transparency register consultation and find out why the present, voluntary system just isn't enough.

The corporate lobby tour

Stop the Crop

Alternative Trade Mandate