EFSA: strengthened procedures to avoid potential conflicts of interest and “Revolving Door” cases
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) acknowledges receipt of the European Ombudsman’s draft report and recommendations relating to a specific potential “Revolving Door” case dating back to 2008/2009. The Authority confirms that its procedures have been significantly strengthened since that time and commits to providing records of any thorough assessment should a similar case arise in the future.
EFSA has thoroughly revised and improved its internal rules since 2008/2009, building on the experience gained from the past and recognising the need to address aspects relating to the public perception of potential conflicts of interest regarding staff appointments. These revisions aim at regulating conflicts of interests, allow for mitigating measures and more generally address matters relating to ethics and integrity of relevance to the Authority’s staff.
Included in its current procedures related to EFSA staff departures, is the requirement to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance of certain appointments and benefits. Furthermore, staff are required to advise EFSA on future employment for a two-year period following their departure, so that the Authority can consider whether that may lead to a conflict of interest.
With regards to the specific case examined by the European Ombudsman in his report, EFSA reiterates that if the Authority was aware of evidence to suggest that the former employee had breached responsibilities towards EFSA following departure from the organisation, appropriate action would have been taken.
Since its creation in 2002, EFSA has put in place a wide range of initiatives to uphold its core values of scientific excellence, openness, independence and transparency. The new Policy on Independence and Scientific Decision-Making Processes intended to integrate these initiatives into one comprehensive document, strengthening the way the Authority can assure independence and transparency in its work will be discussed and possibly adopted by EFSA’s Management Board on 15 December 2011.