Stakeholders – support and help to guide our work

Stakeholders have been contributing to EFSA’s work since the Authority was established in 2002. Now, as part of its five-year strategy, EFSA is committed to prioritising public and stakeholder involvement in the process of risk assessment.

The new approach enables EFSA to interact with a larger range of stakeholders through a number of permanent and targeted platforms (see below). Representatives of food industry and business, farmer organisations, consumer and environment NGOs, distributors, practitioners and academia all have the opportunity to engage with EFSA.

Registered stakeholders can participate in a variety of standing and ad-hoc platforms, according to their interests and expertise. There are two standing bodies:

Stakeholder Forum

Members of the Stakeholder Forum provide strategic input to EFSA’s work plans and future priorities on an annual basis. The themes and topics of each annual forum are suggested by registered stakeholders and by the priority areas identified by EFSA.

Stakeholder Bureau

The Stakeholder Bureau will advise EFSA on stakeholder engagement and dialogue on civil society’s concerns regarding health, the environment, food production and other issues in the Authority’s remit. It will also help shape the agenda of the Stakeholder Forum. It will be made up of seven representatives of the stakeholder groups listed above, proposed by the stakeholders themselves to act in the interests of the stakeholder category they represent.

In addition to the two standing bodies, EFSA has a number of targeted platforms through which it engages with stakeholders on technical issues. These are:

Mandate working groups

These ensure that EFSA engages in meaningful dialogue and capture societal needs and expectations at an early stage of the development of its self-tasks and guidance documents. A pilot for this engagement platform is scheduled in early 2017.

Scientific colloquia

Colloquia, which started in 2004, enable EFSA to tap into the expertise of the wide scientific community and thus prepare for future risk assessment challenges.

Discussion groups

Currently, the following groups are active:

Group on Emerging Risks

Stakeholders are an important source of signals of potential emerging risks and also of data concerning potential identified risks. The Group brings together representatives of consumers, food producers and food processors. Its members are nominated by the EFSA Stakeholder Platform and selected by EFSA. It was established in 2010 and renewed in 2012 and 2014. The current mandate is due to end 2015.

Group on Food Chemical Occurrence Data

EFSA is required to work in close cooperation with all organisations operating in the field of data collection. The Platform set up the group on Food Chemical Occurrence Data to discuss and exchange information on the practical aspects and challenges regarding provision of occurrence data and usage data from stakeholders. The group’s focus is mainly on food additives and chemical contaminants present in food and feed.

Pilot focus group on a Guidance Document on Allergenicity in the area of regulated products

As part of our moves to become a more “Open EFSA”, we are exploring ways to enhance the participation of stakeholders in the development of guidance documents.

EFSA set up a pilot focus group of Member State and stakeholders representatives to contribute to developing new guidance on allergenicity. The guidance, under development by the GMO Panel, has relevance for the allergenicity risk assessment of proteins in general. 

Through the pilot focus group EFSA aims to benefit from stakeholder technical and scientific expertise at different stages in the development of the guidance document. Following its conclusion EFSA will evaluate the contribution of stakeholders to the scientific process and whether this cooperation enhances the quality, clarity and usability of the guidance document. We will draw lessons for further possible future engagement with stakeholders.

The pilot focus group is a consultative body. The members are not expected to contribute to the drafting of the guidance document which remains a responsibility of the GMO Panel and its dedicated Working Group. The group will follow the work of the GMO Panel until the guidance document is final.

Group on E-Submission

This group consists of stakeholders, Member States and European Commission representatives who are directly affected by a project aimed at implementing the future electronic submission and processing of applications for regulated products at EFSA. EFSA aims to benefit from stakeholders’ technical know-how and expertise at different stages in the development of the project, specifically collecting input, requirements and feedback, and running pilots and tests with stakeholders. EFSA will evaluate the contribution of stakeholders to the process to draw lessons for future engagement. N.B. This is a consultative body only. The members are not responsible for the final requirements and design of the E-Submission platform.

Consultation Group on Endocrine Disruptors

EFSA and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) are developing Guidance that will enable applicants and regulatory authorities to identify endocrine disrupting properties among chemical substances proposed as pesticides and biocides under EU legislation.

The Guidance is being drafted by scientific staff from the two agencies and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. They are being supported by a Consultation Group comprising members of ECHA’s Endocrine Disruptor Expert Group and pesticide experts selected by EFSA from EU Member States and from among its registered stakeholders. Following a call for nominations, EFSA selected 14 participants from its accredited stakeholder organisations. Minutes of the selection meeting can be found here. The full list of EFSA Member State and stakeholder experts taking part in the Consultation Group can be found here.

Roundtables

These will address issues raised by environmental NGOs and advocacy groups and industry stakeholders on aspects of EFSA’s work, further understanding of EFSA’s risk assessment processes, and facilitate submission of information and responses to EFSA’s calls and consultations.

Communicators labs

The “lab” will be a way of eliciting feedback and input from communication practitioners working for different stakeholders to increase the accessibility, visibility and use of EFSA communications. A pilot for this engagement platform is scheduled in late 2016.

Information sessions

These will provide opportunities to increase knowledge of EFSA’s work among different groups of stakeholders, encourage dialogue, and share real-world experiences, ultimately enhancing the understanding of EFSA’s scientific work.

How to become a registered stakeholder

Registration to become an EFSA Registered Stakeholder is open-ended. EFSA will update the List of Registered Stakeholders on a quarterly basis.

If you are interested in becoming a registered stakeholder, please complete the online form.

Before submitting your application, you are advised to consult the following documents: