• Questioning EU “green” agencies independence

                May 15, 2012
                by Angela Faloppa

                EFSA headquarters in Parma, Italy (Copyright europa)

                Recently, the EU Medicines Agency(EMA), Environment Agency(EEA), Food Safety Authority(EFSA) all failed to win the Budgetary Control Committee’s approval for the way in which they spend EU funds.

                With reference to the EMA, MEPs asked for an action plan to improve procurement and contract management and sought assurances as to the impartiality of the Agency’s employees and of national experts temporarily seconded to it.

                Concerning the EEA, MEPs criticised the fact that from June 2010 to April 2011, its Executive Director was also a member of the International Advisory Board of the NGO Earthwatch.

                Moreover, some staff members, including the Executive Director herself, went on “research” trips to Earthwatch projects in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, for which, according to the Executive Director, the Agency paid Earthwatch €33,791.

                MEPs called on the Agency to provide detailed information on these trips and the amounts paid to Earthwatch. MEPs also want the Environment Agency to clarify its recruitment arrangements and provide more information about the credentials of its guest scientists.

                Last but not least, MEPs found it unacceptable that meetings of the Management Board of EFSA cost on average €92.630 – or €6.175 per member – and called for “drastic cuts in these excessive costs”. MEPs also pointed to conflicts of interests, given that the Chair of the Management Board was reported to have direct links to the food industry.

                “By voting against discharges of EMA and the EFSA, the European Parliament sends a strong signal: European agencies must immediately put an end to conflicts of interest that undermine democracy, their work and credibility of European decisions….They must define measures much stringency with controls and sanctions, to prevent private interests influence their work to serve the public interest” Corinne Lepage, MEP, said.

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