EFSA Press release, 29 September 2006
Today EFSA’s Advisory Forum members signed a ‘Declaration of Intent’ confirming their commitment to strengthen scientific co-operation and information exchange on risk assessment in the European Union. Advisory Forum members will continue to build on the scientific networks and collaboration achieved thus far, utilising all available legal, administrative and financial tools to re-inforce co-operation in risk assessment across the EU. EFSA will work with members and the Scientific Committee in developing a strategy and roadmap for scientific co-operation for adoption by the Advisory Forum by the end of 2006. The strategy will be a key landmark in implementing the first priority identified by EFSA’s Management Board on 30th June to guide EFSA’s future development following the evaluation of the Authority and its work in 2005.
Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, Executive Director of EFSA, welcomed this initiative: “I am pleased that members of the Advisory Forum have signed up to meet this new challenge. One of the key objectives in establishing EFSA was to achieve greater coherence in risk assessment in the EU. EFSA aims to deliver the best science at the right time and in the most appropriate manner. This can only be achieved through effective pooling and leverage at European level of our collective resources and expertise in risk assessment and risk communications.”
At the 18th meeting of the Advisory Forum hosted by the Swiss Authorities, members reviewed current scientific co-operation and achievements to date in the areas of science, communications and IT-supported information networks. Members discussed possible opportunities to strengthen collaboration such as: identifying more formalized channels of communications; sharing data on specific dossiers; setting up ad hoc liaison groups on forthcoming risk assessments; encouraging exchange of information between scientific staff of EFSA and scientific panels at national level; and sharing draft opinions under embargo on issues of particular importance.
Strong collaboration amongst Member States and EFSA is fundamental to the overall success and effectiveness of the European food safety system, and ultimately to increased consumer protection and confidence. Such co-operation will help ensure: appropriate allocation of resources against priorities; better co-ordination of work programmes, thereby avoiding duplication of activities; early identification and analysis of emerging risks; and finally, increased coherence in scientific risk assessment and communications.
Since its first meeting in March 2003, EFSA’s Advisory Forum, one of the key pillars of the Authority’s organisation, became a vital component of EFSA’s work providing a platform for dialogue, co-ordination and collaboration. Through regular meetings and exchange of information in case of sensitive or emerging issues, Member States have a unique European platform for collaboration on the assessment of risks associated with the food chain. The need to formalize this information exchange resulted last year in the establishment of a working group, chaired by EFSA’s Science Director, on the Input of National Authorities into the work of EFSA’s Scientific Committee, Panels and other Expert Groups. At the request of the Advisory Forum itself, the recommendations made by the working group have been formalized in a Declaration of Intent, signed by members today as a further and formal commitment to pursue scientific co-operation.
The text of the Declaration of Intent is available at the following address: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/etc/medialib/efsa/advisory_forum/adv_meetings/af_18th_meeting.Par.0004.File.dat/af_declaration_intent_18thmeet_en_6a.pdf