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Geoffrey Podger: 'An operational European Food Safety Authority taking up residence in Parma', Press Conference organised by the Provincia di Parma

Geoffrey Podger

I am extremely happy to be here today and I would like to thank the Province of Parma for this invitation.

I would also like to thank the local authorities for organising this meeting in the presence of Commissioner Byrne as this gives me the opportunity to thank him to have sown the seeds for the creation of an independent European agency which will contribute to increasing the level of food safety in the European Union and consequently building consumer confidence.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is dedicated to providing independent and objective scientific advice on risks associated with the food chain. Our advice constitutes a sound scientific basis to help regulatory authorities responsible for food safety to fully protect consumers. We operate therefore in full openness and transparency and the separation between risk assessment and risk management outlined in EFSA’s founding regulation is a strong guarantee for European consumers.

We are also committed to ensuring that all interested parties and the public at large receive timely, reliable, objective and meaningful information on existing and emerging risks, always in view of better informing and protecting consumers.

Since 2002, when EFSA was established, much progress has been made. In fulfilling our main task of undertaking scientific risk assessments for the European Union on all matters linked to food and feed safety, including animal health and welfare and plant protection. I am happy to announce that at the end of August we had already adopted more than 100 scientific opinions.

We have every reason to be pleased with our productivity and effectiveness to date.

We can count now more than 100 staff drawn from all over the Member States and we are fortunate to rely on a strong core of expert scientists. We expect to expand to circa 300 staff in the next few years, when fully operational.

I am particularly happy to be in Parma, our future home, today, less than one month before the start of our first move from Brussels. It will take us around twelve months to complete our move from Belgium. Our current staff will move progressively to Parma and new recruits will take up post there from the outset.

The Authority has secured temporary offices in Parma. Thanks to the big efforts made by the Italian authorities, and in particular to the great collaboration of the local Parma authorities, which I would officially thank again on this occasion, we will be able to begin the move in October. We at the European Food Safety Authority are looking forward to taking up residence in Parma!

I am pleased to say that we have already made very good contacts with the citizens of Parma, with consumer associations and with the industry on a national level and of course in the region. We have already started to forge academic links with the neighbouring universities to our future home. In the future, and once fully operational in Parma these contacts will be intensified.

We are only at the beginning of establishing these relationships but the goodwill we have received on all sides makes me feel confident that EFSA’s arrival will have a positive impact not only on the City and Province of Parma but on the whole Region of Emilia-Romagna.

Thank you.