EU Member State scientific support is critical for the normal functioning of the EU food safety system.
- National food safety authorities give EFSA strategic advice on scientific issues and are the most important contributors of experts to EFSA.
- National bodies provide the essential data used in EFSA’s scientific assessments. Competent organisations in Member States carry out most of the scientific projects EFSA commissions.
- EU Member State public information services and communications experts work with EFSA to disseminate the results of EFSA’s assessments, promote engagement and attract scientific experts. These networks are particularly critical during food-related emergencies.
Advisory Forum: national food safety authorities
- EFSA’s Advisory Forum comprises representatives of the national food safety authorities of the 28 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway. Each national authority is responsible for risk assessment of the food chain at national level although the exact roles may vary by country.
- Observers from Switzerland and the EU Candidate Countries also attend Advisory Forum meetings.
- Through the Forum, EFSA and the Member States can join forces in addressing European risk assessment and risk communication issues. Members use the Forum to advise EFSA on scientific matters, its work programme and priorities, and to identify emerging risks as early as possible. Members aim to share scientific information, pool resources and co-ordinate work programmes with EFSA and each other, specifically on:
- Exchange of scientific data
- Coordinating risk communication activities and messages
- Addressing contentious issues and diverging opinions
- Coordinate work and avoid duplication
Focal points: EU food safety interfaces
Focal Points act as an interface between EFSA and national food safety authorities, research institutes and other stakeholders.
- The Focal Point network comprises members from all 28 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway, as well as observers from Switzerland and EU candidate countries.
- The Focal Points significantly improve scientific cooperation and networking activities between and among Member States and EFSA by:
- assisting in the exchange of scientific information and experts
- advising on cooperation activities and scientific projects
- promoting training in risk assessment
- raising EFSA’s scientific visibility and outreach in Member States
- EFSA and the Focal Points usually meet four times per year ahead of Advisory Forum meetings. They report to EFSA annually on their activities: until 2013 in Focal Point Activities Reports, since 2014 in EFSA’s Scientific Cooperation Reports.
- EFSA coordinates several networks of nationally appointed EU Member State organisations with expertise in specific scientific fields (e.g. emerging risks, pesticide residue monitoring). Representatives of the European Commission and of other organisations, including from outside the EU, with specific expertise may be invited to join an EFSA network.
- The networks facilitate scientific cooperation by coordinating activities, exchanging information, developing and implementing joint projects, and exchanging expertise and best practices.