General Conclusions and Recommendation
115. The White Paper leaves unresolved a number of questions, not least on the status and powers of the proposed European Food Authority. Although in general we support the concept of the Authority, in our opinion the proposal stands or falls on whether the EFA, as constituted, can be given the resources and powers to enable it to establish a track record in scientific excellence - a process which we acknowledge will take time - and to develop rapidly an effective monitoring and surveillance capability, coupled with ability to interact productively with national food agencies and equivalent authorities in the Member States. Achievement of these aims will depend on political will - on the part of Member States and the Commission - to see the Authority succeed. Otherwise the exercise may prove to be a waste of time.
116. Scientific excellence is the overriding goal. The EFA must be given the chance to show that it has genuine potential to become, in the words of the White Paper, "the scientific point of reference for the whole Union", which we see as essential for underpinning tangible improvements in food safety standards, more consistent implementation and enforcement, and enhanced consumer confidence. Later, depending on its performance, it may be appropriate to consider whether the Authority should be given an enhanced role in relation to risk management; this, however, should be seen as reinforcing, not replacing, the unequivocal responsibility of the Council, the Commission and the Member States to ensure that food safety standards are based on best science, and that Community law is enforced rigorously and consistently throughout the European Union in accordance with the EFA's advice. Meanwhile we look forward to seeing the Commission's considered legislative proposals for the Authority, on which we may wish to offer a further opinion.