Impact Assessment of Specific Measures Aimed at Increasing Transparency and Engagement in EFSA Risk Assessment Process

Published in: EFSA Supporting Publications, Volume 13, Issue 6(June 2016), 1047E. doi: 10.2903/sp.efsa.2016.EN-1047

Posted on RAND.org on August 01, 2017

by Elta Smith, Kei Ito, Molly Morgan Jones, Filippa Lofstrom, Camille Wilhelm, Steven Tompkins, Conor McMahon

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked by its Management Board in 2015 to assess the impact of measures to promote trust and confidence in EFSA's risk assessment process under the Transparency and Engagement in Risk Assessment (TERA) project. EFSA commissioned this study in 2015 to develop a methodology that could be applied to the measures identified in the TERA project and conduct a full appraisal on a sub-set of measures. Thirty-five measures were defined and preliminary costs and benefits were identified through desk research and interviews with 41 EFSA staff members. A full impact appraisal was undertaken for nine measures based on an additional 50 interviews with EFSA staff members, Scientific Committee and Panel Members, Member State representatives, industry representatives, non-governmental organisation (NGOs) and consumer group representatives, and academics. Multi-criteria Mapping (MCM) was used to assess seven of the measures. The results show that measures on framing the mandate, consultation on risk assessment methods, consultation on data, publishing meeting minutes, and transparency through the weight of evidence approach were generally assessed optimistically and there was agreement among interviewees on the implementation approach. These measures could be pursued by EFSA. Commenting on opinions could result in increased transparency and use of evidence, but there was no agreement on the implementation approach. EFSA could conduct a feasibility study for this measure. Publishing application information and proactive release of data were supported by most respondent groups but industry stakeholders expected this measure to perform poorly compared with the other measures. Pre-submission engagement with applicants received widely divergent views about implementation and likely impacts. EFSA should investigate this issue through active engagement with industry to determine whether there is sufficient support to warrant the expenditure. Overall, MCM offers an open and transparent way to compare the different conditions and framings that are likely to affect performance of the measures should they be implemented in line with the TERA objectives.

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