There were 162 press releases posted in the last 24 hours and 391,409 in the last 365 days.

Speech of Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, Nominée to be the Executive Director of EFSA, Brussels

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle  

Mister Chairman, Members of the European Parliament,

I am very happy and honoured to be here today as a nominee to be the executive director of EFSA.

I've divided my presentation into two parts. Firstly, I will introduce myself. Secondly, I will present my contribution as the execvtive director of EFSA.

I am Head of the Department of Agriculture and Forestry of the region of Ile de France.

While holding senior management at the French Ministry of Agriculture, I was General director for Food of that ministry from 2000 to 2003. In this capacity, I was responsible for the management of health risks related to food, animal health and welfare, and plant protection.

From 1991 to 1993, I worked for the European Commission in the area of risk management and assessment.

I have widespread experience of administrarion of public policies in the food sector. I hold degrees From the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon and from the Ecole Nationale du Ginie Rural des Eaux et des Forêts (Master of Science).

I was chair of the Codex Alirnentarius Committee on General Principles in 2001 and 2002 and I have been Member and Vice-chair of the Board of EFSA from 2002.

To conclude, I will stress that I hstve acquired a number of skills through my career, which I think are essential in my application for the responsibility of executive director of EFSA.

I was invoIved in the creation of EFSA from the beginning. As a General director for food, I contributed for my minister to the definition of the French position on the founding regulation that created EFSA. Being a member of the Board since 2002, I was involved in the development of the different bodies of EFSA, the definition of its working program and the strategic orientations with regard to risk communication and relationship with stakeholders.

I am very enthusiastic about managing EFSA, since EFSA can really contribute to enhancing the European food safety system and restoring consumer confidence. I have learned from experience that Commission, Member States and Parliament need to rely on an independent and transparent risk assessment process as a basis for risk management decisions.

Risk communication is also an essential responsibility of EFSA in a context where consumer confidence has been undermined by several crises during the last decade and is still very precarious -the recent developments on avian flu reflect this weakness.

We learn from the audit report that EFSA has carried out a great deal of good scientific work and is indeed operational (more than 160 scientific opinions were delivered in 2005). EFSA staff is well motivated and certainly industrious. EFSA has developed close relationship with stakeholders and an active risk communication policy. EFSA is perceived as independent from the Commission and from the economic sector. EFSA has achieved many things over the last three years.

Yet, EFSA, like all young organisations, has to mature and learn from its experience. On the basis of my professional experience, I believe 6 items need be considered to ensure the success of EFSA, namely:

- Enhancing the internal organization of EFSA - Encouraging the dialogue between EFSA and the risk manager - Networking with Member States - Developing the international credibility of EFSA - Strengthening the role of the Board - Strengthening relationship with the European Parliament.

1- Enhancing the internal organisation of EFSA for more reliability and reactivity

EFSA is a young institution. It has grown very quickly and will continue to grow. Considering the find report on EFSA review, particular attention needs to be paid to the internal organisation and its reliability. Reactivity needs to be developed and enhanced, via training and crisis exercises. The move to Parma, which is now complete, will help to create stronger management team cohesion. Simplifying the organisational chart, defining and implementing reliable procedures, fostering team cohesion, developing a culture of crisis will be essential to reinforcing EFSA.

2- Encouraging the dialogue between EFSA and tbe risk manager

Independence is an essential characteristic of EFSA but independence does not mean absence of dialogue. A close relationship between the risk manager and the risk assessor is primordial. Experience has taught me that dialogue is a key issue for restoring consumer confidence. Ensuring the effective coherence of the European food safety system means regular meetings and contacts with DG SANCO.

3- Networking with Member States to handle the heavy scientific workload

EFSA should be given the means to face a very heavy scientific workload. A reflection has already started on this and solutions should be quickly implemented. Three options have already been considered by the Management Board: - Recruiting scientific staff to support the work ofthe panels and the scientific committee. - Outsourcing certain tasks. - Cooperating and networking with national agencies. Networking is essential as an answer to the very heavy workload of EFSA. Networking is also a major contribution to the efficiency of EFSA and its awareness in Europe. The involvement of Member States should prevent overlaps, discrepancies and time- as well as budget-wastes. EFSA is neither the 26th agency of the EU nor the sole agency in Europe.

How could this be implemented?

The practical modalities can be very diverse: - Interactive networking of the panels, - Sharing the preparation of the scientific work on spcific issues, - Coordinating our working program. These are only first examples of what needs ao be discussed.

4- DeveIoping the international credibility of EFSA

Particular attention must be paid to the role of EFSA at an international level since EU is the most important exporting and importing actor in the world. EFSA should provide Commission and Member States with scientific opinions and assistance when they manage the risks related to food originating from third countries. In addition, through its scientific assistance, EFSA should help the EU to defend its views and regulations. We need to promote EFSA's activities in the international forum. We must develop cooperation with national and international risk assessment bodies. I suggest the Board is submitted a proposal for an international strategy.

5- Strengthening the role of the Board

The Board needs to be involved in the definition of the overall strategy to prepare EFSA for the average term future (in 3 to 5 years span). This will enable its main stakeholders and institutional partners to be aware sf the achievements and needs of EFSA. This is particularly important for a young organization, in a context of potential budgetary constraints.

6- Strengthening the relationship with Parliament

The role of Parliament is primordial for EFSA. In addition ro its ability to question EFSA on risk assessment issues, Parliament has an impact on the activities of EFSA when making regulations in the co-decision procedure. Parliament also plays a major role in the financial prosedures: adoption of the budget, discharge...

Parliament needs to be regularly informed on EFSA's activities. This is essential to reinforce the dialogue between EFSA and Parliament.

The yearly transmission of the working program adopted by the Board should give us the opportunity to exchange views on strategic issues and on the update developments.

In 2006, the reflection and the follow-up of the audit report on EFSA will give us an opportunity to dialogue. I am ready to come before your committee on a regular basis and to consider with you the modalities of a renewed dialogue so that EFSA becomes, for Parliament, the reference on scientific issues related to food.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the fact that I have had enthusiasm for EFSA from the beginning. I am ready to contribute to the enhanced success of EFSA with my experience in food safety policies, my European commitment and my involvement in the creation of EFSA. I feel very eager to participate with you to this great European challenge.

Thank you very much for your attention. I am ready to answer to your questions.