EFSA Management Board takes stock after 2 years: Members review progress made, consider new policies to support future growth and give vote of confidence to Chair and Vice-Chairs for a new 2-year term

"Members review progress made, consider new policies to support future growth and give vote of confidence to Chair and Vice-Chairs for a new 2-year term. EFSA certainly does not leave people indifferent,” states the report of a preliminary assessment commissioned by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to evaluate its current image and performance to date. While the expectations of key customers and stakeholders regarding the role of EFSA vary, the report presents a generally positive view of EFSA’s first few months of activity. The quality of scientific opinions is judged to be high, communications has significantly improved and increased co-operation with Member States is valued. However for some, the start-up was too slow and for many… the jury is still out. In addition to reviewing progress made to date, the EFSA Management Board -- at its 15th meeting since its establishment in July 2002-- agreed plans to support the Authority’s future developments and move to Parma and adopted a pro-active approach related to animal testing and welfare. Board members also re-elected for a second 2-year term, the current Chair, Dr. Stuart Slorach, and the two vice-Chairs, Madame Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle and Dame Deirdre Hutton.

“I am pleased to see that EFSA’s commitment to openness and the quality of its scientific opinions are already recognised in this early feedback which we have received from our customers and stakeholders,” said Stuart Slorach. “EFSA will certainly face many challenges ahead. I look forward to serving a second term as Chairman of the Management Board which plays a key role both in ensuring the Authority’s independence and its capacity to effectively deliver its mandate.”

The Board also approved today a proposal on the rental of a provisional building in Parma, which following the approval of the Budget Committee of the European Parliament, will allow EFSA to begin its relocation to Parma in the autumn. It is anticipated that the move will be carried out progressively over a 12-month period and be completed by autumn 2005.

With regards to scientific matters, the Board selected 14 additional experts for EFSA’s scientific panels following a second call for expression of interest which will bring the total number of scientific experts to 170. International co-operation in science with both international organisations and third countries is also a key focus of EFSA’s work, as demonstrated by the account of a recent meeting between EFSA and a senior delegation from the FDA Centre for Food Safety and Nutrition (CFSAN). A similar meeting is scheduled with the Japanese Food Safety Commission in early July. Finally, the Board considered animal welfare aspects of the risk assessment process and agreed for EFSA to pursue the development of a policy with regards to animal testing and welfare. While recognizing that animal testing cannot be eliminated at present, EFSA will make every effort to stimulate, and participate in, the development of new food and feed assessment approaches that would minimise the use of experimental animals and would reduce to the extent possible the level of suffering of those animals that are still needed today.

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