Thursday

19th Oct 2017

Auditor: EU agencies may pose threat to safety

  • Bon voyage: the EU's aviation safety agency scored the worst (Photo: wikipedia)

Conflicts of interest in four EU agencies authorising food, medicines, chemicals and aviation security standards might be putting people's safety at risk, an audit has shown.

"None of the four agencies under review manage conflicts of interest adequately," Igors Ludborzs, a member of the European Court of Auditors, told a press conference in Brussels on Thursday (11 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said the court had selected these four agencies because of repeated media reports and inquiries by the European Parliament about alleged conflicts of interest.

The Cologne-based European Aviation Safety Agency scored the worst, while the other three fared a little better, as they have at least some policies "on paper" on dealing with conflicts of interest.

"Situations of conflict of interest can occur in any workplace at any time. If not addressed, they can affect decisions, cause reputation damage and may affect the safety and health of consumers," the auditor said.

Within the recommendations, detailed in a report the Court of Auditors suggests candidates should be screened before their appointment to see if they are married to lobbyists or industry representatives or if they do any consultancy work for companies which could profit from their work.

Ludborzs said that in the European Chemicals Agency auditors had found sealed envelopes with declarations of interest submitted by new staff, which had "never been opened."

The same agency had one senior staff member rent out an apartment to a company submitting a "large number of applications" for chemicals to be authorised by the agency.

At the food safety agency, Efsa, "the majority of members of a scientific body have been advocates of a concept ... subject to analysis by the same scientific body."

Asked what this panel was dealing with, a member of the auditing team told journalists it was about toxin thresholds in food products, for instance the cocktail effect of additives in food.

The auditors said that most agencies have taken several measures, including limiting the voting rights or even firing staff found in serious conflicts of interest, however.

"Field work for this report has finished in October 2011, we did not include what has happened since," Ludborzs added.

He promised the court would follow up on the situation in the coming years and recommended that other EU agencies - which were not named - should include better provisions on limiting the influence of the private sector on regulatory standards and authorisations.

"When there is corruption and fraud we have an obligation to notify Olaf [the EU's antifraud office]. This was not the case with this report," he said.

Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle

The European parliament claims the media and public do not have a right to supervise or monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

Eurogroup closes Schaeuble era

Eurozone finance ministers bade farewell to their longest-serving and most influential colleague, while preparing to also replace its chairman at the end of the year.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

On balance, 55 percent of British respondents said the UK had benefited from EU membership. Among all European respondents, 47 percent said their voice counted in the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  2. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  3. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  4. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  5. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  6. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  7. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  8. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership