Significant action already taken to combat conflicts of interest, says EFSA
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said that the European Ombudsman has already acknowledged the ‘significant action’ it has taken to strengthen rules and procedures regarding staff members leaving the authority since the beginning of a ‘revolving doors’ case dating back to 2008 was taken to the Ombusdman.
EFSA told us that the Ombudsman had already specifically highlighted that it has already taken action to ensure that if a similar case arises in the future, it:
- obtains sufficient information including a precise description of the proposed new employment, and information concerning possible links between the new and the previous employment,
- proceeds with an assessment that is as thorough as possible,
- and properly records the results of its assessment.
“With a view to the future, the Ombudsman has made some recommendations to which EFSA will now give careful and detailed consideration as part of its cycle of continuous review and improvement of its independence system,” said EFSA in an email to us.
“EFSA will follow up with the Ombudsman as to whether these can underpin further improvements to its current Policy on Independence and Scientific Decision-Making Processes,” it said – adding that policy on independence and scientific decision making have been recognised by recent audits and independent evaluations as ‘highly developed and effective’.
The scientific agency added that it also plans to include the Ombudsman’s report and its recommendations in upcoming discussions with stakeholders – including NGOs.
“While EFSA’s standards of openness and transparency in its scientific processes are already very high, EFSA has pledged to improve them further through a recently launched transparency initiative.”