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

EFSA criticised by auditors over conflicts of interest

Brussels, 11 October 2012 - The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has sent a highly critical message to four of the EU agencies in a report published today, condemning their failure to manage conflicts of interest adequately.

The Court has carried out an investigation into conflict of interests policies at the European aviation safety agency (EASA), European chemicals agency (ECHA), European food safety agency (EFSA) and the European Medicines agency (EMA). The EASA came out worst in the score report, but significant shortcomings were identified at EMA and EFSA as well.

Nina Holland of Corporate Europe Observatory said:

“This report confirms that there is no effective system in place at the agencies to ban conflicts of interest or to stop staff going through the revolving doors between the agencies and industry. Ongoing conflicts of interest at EFSA and the EMA jeopardise food safety and public health. The agencies have so far failed to take the action which is so badly needed”.

The auditors’ report stands in stark contrast to the praise that recently came from Ernst & Young, hired by EFSA to carry out an evaluation of the agency.

Holland added that EFSA for its part was twisting the Court's message by emphasising the observation that EFSA's system to deal with conflicts of interest seems 'more developed' than that of some of the other agencies. She argued that even though EFSA has recently made some changes to its policy and practices, it was not enough to claim that all problems had been solved.

The report also criticises the presence of industry figures on EFSA’s management board. This threat to EFSA’s impartiality, it says, is worsened by the fact that three of these organisations are at the same time represented on the Stakeholder Consultative Platform. This is a clear message to the EU institutions that are about to start a revision of the EFSA founding regulation, where this could be changed.

The ECA report can be found at: http://eca.europa.eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/17190743.PDF

Contact:
Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory + 31 6 30285042

Related issues: 
 

The corporate lobby tour

Heard by the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Bernhard Url, EFSA's director, said that the EU had "enough scientific capability around [...] without a chief scientific adviser".
An analysis of the revised independence policy of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). More reworded than revised, actually.
Will EFSA become more transparent, and to lobbyists or scientists? After its public consultation on its draft transparency policy, the Authority must now choose.
A presentation explaining the situation at the European Food Safety Authority and why conflicts of interest scandals keep accumulating there.
Story

Not our Europe

The ‘agreement’ that the eurozone countries and the Troika forced on the Greek government during the “night of shame” strangled space for a progressive project. It is not only dangerous for the Greeks, but for citizens all across the European Union.
Reforms announced last week do little to address flaws in EU's Emissions Trading System.
Today's Commission announcement extends a failing system for another 15 years.
The prospective EU-US trade deal could be the world's biggest such treaty. The revolving door between public and private sectors is helping to grease the wheels of the TTIP corporate lobby. This phenomenon creates great potential for conflicts of interest, and demonstrates the synergies between business interests and the Commission, UK government, and others when it comes to trade negotiations.

Stop the Crop

Alternative Trade Mandate