Towards a methodological framework for emerging risk identification
The Emerging Risks Unit of EFSA has responsibility for developing a framework for emerging risk identification. The ultimate objective is to inform, in a timely manner, the European Parliament, European Commission, Community Agencies, and Member States. This should provide an opportunity for risk assessors to undertake further investigations leading possibly to a full risk assessment for risk managers to put in place appropriate prevention or mitigation measures. A working group, established to support EFSA in the further development of the emerging risk identification framework, assessed the performance of the current procedure put in place at the EFSA and provided recommendations for improvement. The working group proposed a revised simplified framework for emerging risk identification including three main steps: 1) preliminary identification of priority emerging issues, 2) identification of appropriate data sources and data collection, 3) final evaluation and identification of emerging risks. Priority emerging issues should be identified preferably through expert consultations and via exchange of information with qualified organisations (e.g. sister Agencies and other competent organisations). The working group also provided recommendations on how to improve the efficiency and transparency of the collection of information, the prioritisation of the issues identified, and the formalisation of the outputs and follow-up actions. It is recognised that emerging risk identification is a highly complex task, requiring a high level of expertise due to major data gaps and uncertainties in the evaluation process. It is, thus, proposed to establish a standing working group, including experts from the EFSA Scientific Committee and Panels, to work closely with the Emerging Risks Unit. The proposed methodological framework should be further tested and developed in future emerging risk identification activities within EFSA. Possible approaches for the validation of the system are also addressed in this report.