How we work

Most of EFSA’s work is undertaken in response to requests for scientific advice from the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Member States.

We also carry out scientific work on our own initiative, in particular to examine emerging issues and new hazards and to update our assessment methods and approaches. This is known as “self-tasking”.

  • EFSA organises its work programme – annual and multi-annual – according to priorities agreed with the European Commission and other partners, taking into account available resources.
  • We consult closely to ensure that our programme complements those of our partners – particularly national authorities and food safety agencies in EU Member States – and to avoid overlap and duplication of work and effort.
  • EFSA’s scientific advice is mostly provided by its Scientific Panels and Scientific Committee, members of which are appointed through an open selection procedure.
  • EFSA staff may also produce scientific outputs on behalf of the agency, such as peer reviews of the assessment of active substances in pesticides, or responses to urgent requests for advice. EFSA staff also monitor and analyse information and data on biological hazards, chemical contaminants, food consumption and emerging risks.

EFSA adheres to a number of principles and practices aimed at ensuring the excellence of our work. These include:

  • A commitment to openness and transparency in all our work.
  • The development of a comprehensive body of good risk assessment practices to guide our Scientific Committee and Panel experts. 
  • A quality assurance system that continually monitors and strengthens the quality of EFSA’s scientific work. This includes self-review and customer feedback systems which ensure that scientific processes are developed consistently and continuously improved across EFSA’s Panels and by staff.
  • Reviews and inspections carried out by an internal auditor reporting to the EFSA’s Management Board’s Audit Committee, which advises senior management on possible improvements to work practices.
  • External evaluation: EFSA’s Founding Regulation obliges the Authority to commission independent external evaluations of its work and working practices. Based on these evaluations, the Management Board makes recommendations on EFSA’s future management plans and strategies. The next evaluation will take place in 2017-2018 – a call for tenders to carry out the evaluation will be launched in March 2017.

In addition the Authority is legally bound by European Union legislation on issues such as public access to documents.