Forging stronger partnerships with Member States
EFSA's new Scientific Cooperation Roadmap intensifies collaboration with Member States up to 2016 and marks a shift in focus towards increased knowledge sharing and intelligent use of expertise and resources. With shared responsibilities and goals, Member States and EFSA have agreed on a common vision: "working together on joint priorities to ensure food safety".
The roadmap sets out a risk assessment agenda of shared priorities with Member States. The over-riding objectives are to share work programmes, create opportunities for scientific cooperation and build towards a coherent international voice.
Dr Stef Bronzwaer, head of scientific cooperation at EFSA, explained: "Working together brings mutual benefits through efficiency gains and shared responsibility, earning a return on investment in scientific cooperation, for both EFSA and Member States. We also believe that cooperation benefits consumer protection and boosts public confidence in the EU food safety system."
The Authority is also backing up its proposals with financial support; outsourcing through framework partnership agreements, thematic grants and twinning projects will increase opportunities for joint projects among Member States, and between EFSA and Member States. The budget set aside for scientific cooperation under the roadmap tops €10.5 million in 2014, rising to over €11 million in 2016. The first tranche of thematic grants is set to launch in early November 2014.
The roadmap is a direct response to the EFSA Management Board’s request to prioritise cooperation as a means to further enhance EU risk assessment capacity. The resulting programme is the fruit of wide-ranging discussions within EFSA's Advisory Forum, composed of representatives of the national competent authorities in Member States.
The roadmap also takes on board the Authority’s efforts to promote international scientific cooperation: EFSA is deepening joint action with other EU risk assessment bodies, risk assessors in third countries and international organisations, to harmonise scientific assessment methods. These efforts will pave the way for an EU risk assessment agenda that addresses common long-term needs and actions. A stronger institutional framework will allow EFSA, national and institutional partners to identify specific activities and joint projects to prioritise, plan and pool resources in the coming years.
Other highlights of the roadmap
- EFSA to extend public consultations to eight weeks whenever possible and recommend that Member States also organise public consultations.
- Different Member State needs and expectations to be assessed to determine if scientific cooperation ‘clusters’ are possible, making use of different cooperation tools.
- Summer courses, mentoring and regional training opportunities, basic risk assessment training opportunities / materials for non-scientists and relevant stakeholders could add to existing training activities.
- How in the coming years EFSA will work together with EU institutions and bodies with a risk assessment mandate (ECDC, ECHA, EEA, EMA) to ensure a consistent risk assessment approach at EU level and to contribute to international harmonisation.
- Advisory Forum – connects EFSA with the national food safety authorities of all 28 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway. The Advisory Forum offers a means of ensuring close cooperation between EFSA and the competent national authorities.
- Management Board – ensures that EFSA functions effectively and efficiently, delivers its mandate as defined in the Founding Regulation and meets the expectations of European and national institutions, stakeholders and the public.
- Scientific cooperation with partners in Member States and internationally has been important to EFSA since its founding. Enhancing cooperation is a strategic priority of EFSA’s multiannual plan for 2014-2016. The Authority is building partnerships with national and international bodies to develop and implement harmonised risk assessment methodologies and standardised approaches for collecting and assessing scientific evidence. EFSA is also strengthening its role as European food safety data hub through innovative data and information projects. Through further collaboration with national, European and international bodies EFSA aims to be the recognised reference point for excellence in global risk assessment.