April 19, 2001 — It appears the proposed European Food Authority will not be operational in 2002 as previously hoped.
Robert Coleman, director general of the European Commission’s health and consumer protection wing, told a Brussels conference earlier this month that the timeframe that had previously been given was simply not realistic, according to published reports.
“Two years is a short time to put the Authority in place,” Coleman said. ” We made every effort to have it functioning in 2002. However, we are not at all sure this is possible.”
The proposed organization would work to ensure food safety in Europe but would not have any rule-making powers. The goal of the organization is to streamline the existing rules applied by EU nations to ensure safe foods and to regain public confidence in the European food industry.
In the meantime, Coleman said officials are looking into the possibility of setting up a proto-agency by January.
Under the commission’s proposal, the authority would consist of nearly 350 members, have access to high-level scientific information and be able to reach agreements on any safety issues that may arise.
One of the biggest issues blocking the creation of the agency is battle over where it will be located. A decision on where it will be located will likely come in June.