21st Oct 2016

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.


Cyprus seeks EU support on reunification

EU states should be "more vocal" with Turkey and play a more political role on reunification, Cyprus' EU ambassador told EUobserver.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity

Latest News

  1. Dieselgate: German environment officials 'heard only rumours'
  2. Wallonia still refuses to buy the Ceta "cat in a bag"
  3. Women shake Poland's pillars of power
  4. Malta, Latvia, and Hungary top EU obesity charts
  5. British PM asserts her role in EU 'nest of doves'
  6. Italy shields Russia from EU sanctions threat
  7. EU and Wallonia still stuck on Canada accord
  8. Dieselgate isn't my fault, says German transport minister