EFSA Stakeholders elect new chair, discuss strategy, plans ahead

Members of the European Food Safety Authority’s Stakeholder Consultative Platform, including representatives of consumer, industry and environmental groups, have elected a new chair and discussed the Authority’s priorities and strategic objectives ahead. 

Members elected Andreas Varlamos as the new Platform chair. Mr Varlamos is a member of the management board of Greek consumer association “The Quality of Life”, (EKPIZO), which is a member of the European Consumers’ Organisation, BEUC.

“I am honoured that Members have put their confidence in me and I intend in turn to demonstrate that trust in chairing the Stakeholder Platform,” Mr Varlamos said. “I believe it is important the Platform plays its part in shaping EFSA’s vision and mission, and contributing to their achievements, particularly at a time when EFSA is reviewing its stakeholder policy. Good relations between public institutions such as EFSA and stakeholders are crucial in order to deliver real benefits for the people of the EU.”

Greater engagement with the Stakeholder Platform this year have included technical meetings on key issues such as health claims and animal cloning and one today on nanotechnology.

Addressing the Platform, Executive Director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle reviewed progress made by EFSA on the recommendations set out by the EFSA Management Board in 2006. She said the European food safety watchdog had achieved much over the past two years and would go on working towards its goals with the close involvement and cooperation of stakeholders, national food authorities and Member States, as well as the support from the EU institutions.

“EFSA is now well established and has delivered more than 1,000 opinions and reports. We aim now to strengthen relationships with our stakeholder and institutional partners so that they can help guide EFSA’s medium and long-term vision, taking into account, for example, consumer expectations and needs, the evolution of risk perception, the global food supply chain and new scientific approaches,” Geslain-Lanéelle said.

Stakeholder representatives discussed the 2009-2013 draft Strategic Plan which sets out the objectives ahead in a fast-changing environment in food and feed safety, of the likelihood of new or re-emerging risks due to climate change, the globalisation of world markets and new technologies. The Plan is subject to public consultation until 3 November.

To make EFSA fit to face those challenges and continue offering sound advice to Europe’s decision makers, scientific work is being prioritised, opinions subjected to robust internal and external review and fast-track procedures for urgent matters set in place. Stakeholders commended EFSA for the rapid response provided this year on issues such as the contamination of mineral oil and the recent melamine case. A focus on openness and transparency has led to the strengthening of EFSA’s policy on declarations of interests, including rigorous screening of experts, publication of a DOI database for all EFSA’s experts and documentation of all decisions taken in Panel and working group meetings.

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