EFSA opened its doors to the people of Parma last Saturday (4 May) as part of the celebrations for Europe Day. More than 500 people visited the Authority’s premises in Viale Piacenza for the annual Porte Aperte (Open Doors) event to hear how EFSA helps to protect Europeans through its scientific risk assessment work.
Europe Day (9 May) takes place this year in the context of the EU’s Year of Citizens 2013, which aims to highlight the rights that come with EU citizenship. Throughout the year, the EU is encouraging dialogue between all levels of government, civil society and business to build a vision of how the EU should look in 2020.
EFSA’s afternoon of dialogue with its Italian neighbours included a range of interactive and engaging activities, culminating in a lively meeting entitled “Appetite for Europe” that was attended by about 150 people.
Addressing the meeting, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, EFSA’s Executive Director, said: “The aim of the European Year of Citizens is to encourage dialogue among citizens, institutions, and civil society. EU citizenship is not an empty concept but a concrete status to which a number of important rights are attached. EFSA is pleased to celebrate this initiative and discuss the future of Europe with the citizens of Parma, the EU and with its local partners.”
Attendees discussed the future of the European Union with EFSA staff – including Ms Geslain-Lanéelle – Federico Pizzarotti, the Mayor of Parma, and Fabrizio Spada, from the European Commission in Milan. A wide-ranging discussion covered questions such as: how to raise awareness of the work of the EU among European citizens; the search for a common identity across the different nations; and how Member States can best collaborate in crises.
Prior to the debate there were information sessions on subjects such as EFSA’s role in the European food safety system; the risks and benefits of pesticides; animal welfare; and health claims made on food products. Visitors also sat down with EFSA’s experts at “Meet the Scientist” sessions to discuss these and other issues such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), plant health, zoonoses, food additives, and nutrition.
Children enjoyed themselves at a special interactive play area where they learned about food science. And the EFSA “cinema” screened the Authority’s series of Understanding Science videos, which explain the science behind the many different areas of EFSA’s work.
Also known as Schuman Day, Europe Day commemorates the historic declaration made by the French foreign minister Robert Schuman in 1950. Schuman proposed the pooling of the French and West German coal and steel industries, which led to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the beginnings of a European federation.