The Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority held an initial discussion on EFSA’s draft Multiannual Plan outlining key priorities and initiatives for the three years 2014-2016 and welcomed the multiannual approach to planning. After a fruitful exchange of views, it was agreed that EFSA will resubmit the Plan at the next meeting of the Board in June in order to provide further details on proposals for a redistribution of tasks between staff and working group experts in the area of regulated products and to give Board members more time to consider their implications.
As EFSA’s draft preliminary Management Plan, Establishment Plan and preliminary budget for 2014 were aligned with the Multiannual Plan, it was decided that EFSA would resubmit them for adoption through written procedure. These will propose a 1.1% budget increase and a reduction in staff of -1% in line with European Commission budgetary guidance. The Board acknowledged current uncertainty surrounding the EU budget, and will re-address the documents at its June meeting when there may be greater clarity over the EU’s multiannual financial framework.
Among other items of discussion, the Board was given an update on EFSA’s activities for emerging risk identification and an outline of ongoing activities related to chemical mixtures, low dose response, human biomonitoring and bee health.
“Board members held a comprehensive discussion, underlining the importance of this strategic shift in EFSA’s operational organisation in the regulatory products area,” EFSA Management Board chair Sue Davies said.
“The Board will come back to this in June when it is anticipated the multiannual financial framework will be clearer and when the Board has had time to consider at length this change in work practices,” she added.
The rolling Multiannual Plan takes account of the recommendations for action which Board members made based on the findings of EFSA’s second independent external evaluation report published in 2012. The recommendations were aimed at directing the development of EFSA in the coming years towards a more sustainable, efficient and trusted organisation.
In the draft Multiannual Plan, EFSA identified three key priority areas for the period 2014-16 with a series of initiatives related to: ensuring EFSA is fit for purpose; optimising the use of resources; and building more transparency and trust.
- fitness for purpose – EFSA will strive to enhance the quality of its outputs and to meet the needs of its customers. In line with its Science Strategy, EFSA will intensify its cooperation and networking activities with national food safety authorities, international organisations and other stakeholders to build richer data sources for risk assessment and to promote further harmonisation of risk assessment methodologies.
- optimising the use of resources – EFSA is proposing to redistribute some of its scientific work between external experts and internal staff from 2014 in the area of regulated products ( GMOs, food ingredients and packaging, feed additives and health claims) by providing further support to Panels in relation to some routine preparatory work currently being carried out by Panel Working Groups. EFSA will also increase its efficiency in handling applications by streamlining its administrative processes.
- building more transparency and trust – EFSA will push forward with its transparency initiative developed with its institutional partners and stakeholders, focusing on transparency with respect to the data and processes used in risk assessment. The review of its Communications Strategy in 2013 will build on simplicity and transparency, cooperation with Member States and the international risk assessment community, and communicating the role of EFSA and the independence of its risk assessment work.
EFSA foresees over the period 2014-16 a growing demand for risk assessments and scientific advice in such areas as animal health and welfare, pesticides, GMOs, novel foods and enzymes as well as for evaluations to cover issues, including environmental risk assessment, post-market monitoring, risk benefit and efficacy. Faced with challenges posed by growing international trade in food and other global food safety issues, EFSA must remain ready to respond quickly to any food safety-related crises.
- Draft Multiannual Plan (2014-2016)
- EFSA Science Strategy 2012-2016
- Risk communication
- EFSA 10 years on - Independent report says Authority delivering on all fronts, outlines recommendations for further progress
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