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IP/02/328

Brussels, 27 February 2002

Commission seeks head of new European Food Safety Authority

The European Commission today launched the procedure to find an Executive Director to head up the new European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The appointment of the Executive Director will be an important milestone along the road to an operational Authority. The Commission is forging ahead with its practical planning to ensure that the Authority can start its operations as soon as practicable. The Authority is a major component of the wide ranging reform of EU food law launched by the Prodi Commission in its January 2000 White Paper on Food Safety. In taking these reforms forward, David Byrne, the Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, has demonstrated that food safety is his top priority. The Regulation forming the legal basis for the Authority was adopted in record time on 28th January 2002 and thus cleared the way for immediate action to get the Authority fully operational at its temporary Brussels' location this year. The launch of the procedure to find the Executive Director is the second major initiative of the past few weeks, the first being the procedure to identify suitable candidates for the Management Board of the Authority which was launched on 1st February.

David Byrne said today: " Since taking office this Commission has been committed to addressing the serious concerns of consumers about the safety of their daily food. During the past two years I have put in place many major initiatives to ensure that the safety of the food supply is protected, and of these the creation of the European Food Safety Authority is the most far reaching. By initiating procedures for the selection and nomination of the Executive Director, an operational Authority is one step closer."

Background

Since he took office in September 1999, Commissioner Byrne has striven to ensure that food safety stays at the top of the agenda. The EFSA is the cornerstone of his strategy to ensure that the European consumer has access to the safest possible food supply in the world.

The Regulation that will provide the legal basis for the new European Food Safety Authority was formally adopted by the Council of Ministers on the 28th January 2002 and entered into force last Thursday. This Regulation provides a framework of fundamental principles, definitions and requirements for food safety and establishes the structural and operational basis for the European Food Safety Authority. This major milestone paved the way for the Commission to take the necessary steps to get the European Food Safety Authority operational as soon as possible in 2002.

Establishment of Management Board

Immediately following the adoption of the Regulation, the Commission published a call for expression of interests for the Management Board in the national press, the Official Journal of the European Communities and on the EFSA website(1st February). Today, the next phase has been launched, with a similar wide cast of the net to start the process to recruit an Executive Director.

The EFSA is becoming operationalstep by step. The Management Board has to be established first and then the Executive Director can be appointed. The appointment of the Management Board, which is composed of 14 members and a representative of the Commission follows a procedure involving the Council and the European Parliament. The Commission will identify a list of suitable candidates from which the Council will choose after having heard the views of the European Parliament.

Recruitment of Executive Director

The Management Board will subsequently appoint the Executive Director on the basis of a list of suitable candidates following an open recruitment process. It is for the purposes of creating this list that today's action has been launched. Depending on the time it takes the European Parliament and Council to appoint the Board Members, the Executive Director could take up office sometime during the summer or early autumn.

The Executive Director will be responsible for ensuring that the Authority becomes a major voice on food safety matters. The food safety scares of the past exposed certain weaknesses in the European system, which are being addressed by the creation of the Authority and other initiatives from the Commission. The main task of the Authority is to provide scientific advice and support for Community legislation and policies in all fields having a direct or indirect impact on food and feed safety.

One of the first tasks of the Executive Director will be to constitute the Authority's new Scientific Committee and Panels, and to recruit the necessary specialised staff for the administration and the scientific work of the agency.

The Executive Director will also have to work closely with the national food safety authorities across Europe. He or she will be in charge of establishing the Advisory Forum comprising the heads of these national authorities, which will assist the EFSA in scientific and technical matters.

Until the Authority's management is in place, the European Commission will continue the preparatory work to ensure that the Authority can become operational as soon as possible. The existing scientific committees will continue to function until the Authority's Scientific Committee and Panels are operational to avoid any disruption in scientific advice on food safety matters.

Following the December 2001 Laeken European Council's decision on Brussels as temporary seat for the EFSA, the Commission has allocated part of its premises in Brussels to the future Authority. For more detail see: http://efsa.europa.eu

http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/efa/index_en.html

and Questions and Answers about the European Food Safety Authority at

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/library/press/press135_en.pdf


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