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EU promotes new food safety unity as UK prepares for independence

Sunday, October 2, 2016 22:22
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(Before It's News)

In the first official reaction involving food safety in Europe since the BREXIT vote has come in the form of a new “Declaration of Commitment” that has member states reaffirming their support for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

BREXIT was the referendum process that culminated in last June’s vote by residents of the United Kingdom that saw a near 52 percent vote to leave the European Union. British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger the EU Article 50 withdrawal process by March 2017, meaning the UK would again be independent of the EU and its bureaucracies like the EFSA by the end of March 2019.

The coming separation has the EU feeling a little uncertain, and the “Declaration of Commitment” came up at the recent EFSA Advisory Forum(AF), which was met at Bratislava in the Slovak Republic. The AF has been around since 2003 to link mostly member states with Europe’s top food safety agency.

In a statement, EFSA said in the new Declaration that member states “have agreed on a range of measures and activities that will ensure that EFSA and Advisory Forum members can together meet future challenges in the area of food safety and so protect European consumers.

The EFSA statement went on to say that Dr Zuzana Bírošová, the Slovak representative on EFSA’s Advisory Forum, welcomed the signing of the declaration, which she said would help to strengthen relationships between EFSA and food safety institutions in the member states. The Declaration “promotes scientific excellence and scientific networking, allows member states to contribute to the EU risk assessment agenda and collect information on potential or emerging risks to food safety,” she added.

EFSA Executive Director Bernhard Url said: “The Declaration of Commitment by the members confirms that we are moving from cooperating to a partnership between EFSA and Advisory Forum members. Our shared goal is a common EU risk assessment agenda to promote harmonization of food safety risk assessment and consistent communication in the interest of consumer protection.”

EFSA says the Advisory Forum has been a “key platform for forging stronger links between EFSA and EU Member States. “This cooperation has helped to inform EFSA’s risk assessment work programs, promote the exchange of information and data, develop scientific networks and shape a coherent approach to risk communication,” the statement added.

Slovakia currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meetings there were the 61st since the Advisory Forum was founded.

In the Declaration, member states agreed to:

  • Act independently in the public interest
  • 
Strengthen the relationships between EFSA and the food safety institutions in the member states
  • Share information on risk assessments which are being planned or concluded
  • Promptly inform each other about notifications of communications to the public on matters of high interest, where possible providing advance notification
  • Share data, including the level of uncertainty, which would be beneficial for risk assessments
  • 
Pool knowledge on potential or emerging risks to food safety
  • Disseminate the work program and risk assessments of EFSA
  • Provide early warning of potential divergence of scientific opinion
  • Work to review and resolve any real or potential divergence of scientific opinion between member states or between member states and EFSA
  • Promote scientific excellence and scientific networking
  • Promote the active engagement of national institutions in support of EFSA’s mission, as envisaged by Article 36 of the founding regulation
  • Ensure a coherent approach between member states and EFSA to the communication of science and risk assessment
  • Contribute to the EU risk assessment agenda
  • Identify grant and procurement opportunities to improve risk assessment across Europe
  • Promote life-long learning initiatives that can strengthen the capacity for risk assessment and risk communication in the member states
  • Support joint international cooperation for the improvement of food safety and risk communication
Identify areas for research on food safety and associated opportunities for collaboration
  • Provide advice to the Executive Director on EFSA work program and research needs
  • 
Support the mission and the merging of strategic goals of EFSA and the member states in order to meet the challenges in the area of food and feed safety in all its forms

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