Brussels, 11 December 2001
European Food Safety Authority Prodi and Byrne welcome constructive EP position : Final agreement very close
Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, welcomed today as "highly constructive" the position adopted by the European Parliament's Plenary on the Regulation setting up a European Food Authority and laying down the principles for EU food law. The EP position in second reading marks very significant progress towards final approval by the Council. Commissioner David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, said the amendments tabled by the Parliament help to strengthen and improve the new EU food safety regime. Byrne expressed strong hopes that the EP position paves the way for a rapid adoption of the Regulation and the start of operations of the Authority in the first half of 2002 in line with conclusions of the Nice European Council. The EP's idea to change the name of the Authority to "European Food Safety Authority" (EFSA) also got the Commissions support. In a separate resolution adopted today the European Parliament set out criteria for selecting a seat for the Authority, on which the Council is expected to decide shortly.
"I proposed the establishment of a European Food Safety Authority when I came into office. Today´s reading in the Parliament is a huge step towards having the Authority up and running early next year", said President Prodi. "Only 13 months ago the Commission tabled the legislative proposal. This speedy progress demonstrates that Europe can work fast and well when all players acknowledge the interest at stake, with public support. Europe is well on track to ensure safe food from the farm to the fork."
David Byrne stated: "Sound scientific assessment and advice and a convincing communication role will put the European Food Safety Authority in a top position to ensure our citizens´ trust and confidence in the food they eat. I am convinced that we are now in a good position to avoid a time-wasting conciliation exercise and the delays it would entail in setting up the new Authority. My thanks are due to Philip Whitehead, the EP's rapporteur, and his team for a high quality job. I also want to thank all MEPs for the excellent co-operation in finding acceptable solutions on all key outstanding issues. I am particularly pleased that the Parliament has supported the Commission's proposal for a broad mandate for the Authority, which for me has always been key to the early identification of emerging risks in the food chain and to preventing BSE type crises."
A new name: European Food Safety Authority
At the Parliament's instigation the Commission accepted a change to the name of the Authority to European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), thus underlining its key vocation on food safety matters.
The Parliament on the other hand did not press its earlier amendments that would have restricted the scope of activities of the Authority. Consensus has therefore emerged on a broad mandate for the EFSA, including a wide range of scientific and technical support tasks on all matters having a direct or indirect impact on food safety. The EFSA's mission therefore includes the provision of scientific opinions on all issues in relation to animal health and welfare, plant health and genetically modified organisms without prejudice to the competence conferred to the Agency for the Evaluation for Medicinal products (EMEA). The EFSA will also have a major task in informing the public about its activities.
Composition of Board
A compromise between the institutions now also appears within reach on the composition and selection procedures for the Management Board of the EFSA. The European Parliament has today adopted an amendment that would put in place a management board of fifteen members, including a representative of the Commission. Four members of the Board will have backgrounds in consumer and industry matters. Members would be appointed by the Council in consultation with the European Parliament. The Parliament has also agreed that Management Board will nominate a candidate Executive Director, who will be required to give a statement and answer questions before the EP prior to appointment.
Location of EFSA
Given that Heads of State and Government are expected to decide on a seat soon, the European Parliament did not include requirements in the legislation obliging the Council to decide on the seat in consultation with the EP and Commission and in accordance with several specific criteria. Instead, MEPs voted a resolution in which their view on the criteria for a suitable location are set out.
Setting up principles for a European Food Law
The Regulation on setting up a European Food Safety Authority includes as well general principles for food law. Amongst others, for the first time it will be clearly defined in European law what is considered a food. General traceability requirements are set out as well as the principle to put only safe food on the market. The European Parliament has introduced today requirements increasing transparency in the preparation and review of food law, as a complement to the transparency requirements already set out for the assessment of scientific information on food safety. Amendments have also been introduced that clarify the responsibilities of food and feed business operators and their employees with respect to public health protection.
The proposal for a European Parliament and Council Regulation laying down the general principles of food law, establishing the Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food was put forward by the Commission on 8 November 2000 as one of the priority actions under its White Paper on Food Safety. In addition to setting up an independent scientific assessment and communications capability in the European Food Safety Authority, it also sets out a general framework for food law, outlining the overarching principles, procedures and requirements of food law to ensure a high and harmonised level of consumer health protection in the internal market.
Following today's vote in the European Parliament, the Council is expected to reach political agreement on a final text of the proposed Regulation.
For further background also see
and Questions and Answers about the European Food Authority at