Food Law News - EU - 2001

EP Daily Notebook, 11 December 2001

Strong backing from MEPs for 'European Food Safety Authority'

Report on the Council common position for adopting a European Parliament and Council regulation laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety

There was overwhelming support for Phillip WHITEHEAD's (PES, East Midlands) recommendation for second reading. Parliament supports the wish of Commission and Council for a start date in early 2002 for the new Authority but MEPs felt this imminent deadline must not prevent Parliament playing its full role as co-legislator on a crucial issue such as food safety. An amendment retabled from first reading adding the word 'safety' to the name (so that it becomes the European Food Safety Authority) was adopted almost unanimously, as were amendments on the streamlining of the Authority's management board (14 members instead of 16), its efficiency, its democratic accountability (public meetings and documents) and its seat. Important amendments were also adopted with regard to food safety procedures.

An amendment was adopted demanding that 4 of these 14 members of the Management Board should have their background in organisations representing consumers and other interests in the food chain. This amendment had been tabled on the understanding that the following joint declaration will be ratified by all institutions concerned:

Joint declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission

The Parliament, the Council and the Commission consider that, irrespective of the Community's enlargement, a Management Board composed of 14 members plus a representative of the Commission would provide the Authority with the best possible balance between the necessary efficiency of the Board and the need for a broad range of relevant expertise. Consequently, they consider that the number should in no circumstances be increased.

Although there is general agreement between the three institutions on the European Food Safety Authority, this was not quite the case on the criteria for its seat. In order to avoid a conciliation procedure on this criteria solely, EPP-ED, PES, ELDR and Greens saw an amendment adopted in the form of a draft legislative resolution, in which the Council was called on to apply the following criteria in its decision-making procedure on the location of EFSA:

Hopes were expressed that this draft resolution will now be discussed at the Laeken Summit later this week.

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