FAQ on EFSA's 2010 budget discharge
On 10 May 2012, the European Parliament voted to postpone EFSA’s 2010 budgetary discharge. EFSA understands that in voting for a postponement, the European Parliament is seeking reassurance on some specific points. The European Parliament gave 2 principal reasons for its decision to postpone the 2010 discharge:
- MEPs found the costs incurred by holding meetings of EFSA’s 15-member Management Board to be unacceptable and called for “drastic cuts in these excessive costs”.
- MEPs expressed their concern about conflicts of interest pointing to the Chair of the Management Board’s alleged membership of the Board of Directors of the International Life Science Institute (ILSI) – Europe.
EFSA will also be looking into areas of budgetary carryover and execution as well as the internal audit process.
What happens next?
In upholding its commitment to transparency, EFSA will continue to work with the European Parliament in the coming months and is ready to provide the European Union institutions with the requested information by 30 June 2012 and subsequently later in the Autumn when further votes will take place.
Is EFSA spending too much holding its Management Board meetings?
The costs of holding Management Board meetings referred to during the Committee meeting included live video web-casting in order to ensure optimal transparency of the Board's discussions. In 2011, EFSA reduced costs by switching from live video to live audio webcasting of the meetings. In March 2012, the Board further reduced the cost of its meetings, which this year will fall below the average costs of meetings incurred by other EU agencies. Cost reduction measures will mean audio recordings will no longer be webcast live but an audio recording will be made available to the public the day after the meeting. In addition, Management Board meetings will in future be held at EFSA’s seat in Parma.
Is it true that in 2010 the Chair of EFSA’s Management Board was a member of the industry-funded scientific think-tank, ILSI Europe?
In October 2010, the former Chair of the Management Board, Diána Bánáti, resigned from her board position at ILSI. The EFSA Management Board decided at the time that in order to avoid any misperception of its role, the chair should refrain from having a management or other influential role in organisations representing interests in the food chain, other than public interests. The Management Board in 2011 also adopted a Code of Conduct, which upholds core principles and values such as integrity, objectivity and serving in the public interest while providing guidance on standards expected by EU institutions and the general public. The Management Board oversees the Authority's governance but has no power to review EFSA’s scientific outputs nor to influence their adoption procedure, which is the sole responsibility of EFSA’s Scientific Committee and Panels.
However, having been informed on 8 May 2012 of her decision to take up a professional position at the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), EFSA requested that Diána Bánáti resign effective immediately, as this position is not compatible with her role as member and Chair of the EFSA Management Board.
What measures has EFSA adopted to increase confidence in the independence of its scientific advice?
As part of a cycle of continuous improvement to its policies and procedures, EFSA has put in place a comprehensive series of mechanisms to safeguard the independence of its scientific advice. In December 2011, EFSA’s Management Board adopted the new integrated policy on Independence and Scientific Decision Making Processes, which brings together all the measures EFSA has put in place to ensure the independence of its scientific work and to safeguard its scientific integrity. In March 2012, EFSA published implementing rules of the Policy, which provide a clearer, more transparent and more robust set of general principles applicable to all those engaging in EFSA’s work – scientific experts, staff, members of the Management Board and third party organisations, including external contractors. The Annual Declarations of Interests of members of its Management Board, EFSA's Scientific Committee, Panels and their working groups, as well as senior EFSA management are publically available on the Authority's website.