The industry, consumer organisations, and the trade unions are lobbying fiercely to have their representatives appointed to the Board of the European Food Safety Authority, which recently published a list of candidates.
TheEuropean Federation of Trade Unions in the Food, Agriculture and Tourism sectors(EFFAT), representing 2.6 million workers from the food, agriculture and tourism industry across 35 European countries, sharply criticised the list of candidates, as it does not include any representative of the workers in the food supply chain. EFFAT's General Secretary Harald Wiedenhofer stated that "the Commission excludes the interests of those in the food supply chain with the most explicit interest in safer food, namely the workers who's job security is utterly dependent on consumer trust in food products". He added that the list also hampered the selection of suitable experts from the spectrum of experience ofallstakeholders by the European Parliament and the Council.
At the European Food Summit, organised by the CIAA on 11-12 April 2002, representatives of thefood and drink industryalso expressed concern that at least one of their candidates would be on the Board of the EFSA. Food processors, food retailers and farmers - three food sectors with very diverse interests - would only be represented by two representatives. Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said that the Parliament would look into this issue (see
EuroCommerce, representing retailers, wholesale and international traders in the EU, stated its support for the rapid setting up of the EFSA and hopes that a representative of the commerce sector will be on the Management Board, as "commerce represents the link between industry and the 370 million EU consumers".
On 8 April, the Commission announced a list of 30 candidates for the Management Board of the EFSA. This list includes 6 representatives of consumer associations and 6 representatives of the food chain (2 from industry, 2 from the agricultural sector and 2 from the trade sector), as well as several ministerial officials and some academics. The Council will appoint 14 members - the 15th member will be chosen by the Commission. In principle, the Board will contain two members from industry and two from consumers associations.
The EFSA will provide independent scientific and technical support, coordinate the harmonisation of risk assessment methodologies, identify emerging food safety risks and be responsible for the operation of the rapid alert system. It will also give out objective information to the public.
The European Parliament has three months to consider the candidates and give its opinion to the Council. Mr Byrne expressed his hope that the appointment of the Board would be finalised by the end of May or beginning of June, and that the Executive Director would be appointed no later than September.