|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.21, 24.5.01, p8|
Disagreements over what precisely the proposed European Food Authority should do are threatening to cause lengthy delays in its establishment.
EU diplomats are engaged in intense negotiations aimed at overcoming the last remaining hurdles in securing agreement about just how comprehensive a remit the new authority - due to be allocated an initial budget of €44 million - should have.
Sweden is hoping to broker an agreement on the issue before its stint at the EU helm concludes in late June.
The biggest divergence among member states concerns efforts to include animal health in the authority's brief.
The Swedes are adamant this should be covered but their enthusiasm is not shared by several other EU countries, which favour a more restrictive approach.
"If the authority is to be genuinely pro-active, then it would be wrong to exclude these questions," said a representative of the Stockholm government.
"You could say today that a particular animal health issue doesn't appear to be linked to food safety, but tomorrow the situation might be quite different."
European consumer association BEUC holds similar views. "A lot of the recent problems we've seen have arisen because insufficient attention has been paid to animal health," said Jim Murray, the organisation's director, referring to the outbreaks of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease.
A declaration issued by EU leaders at the Nice summit last December urged that attempts to get the authority operational by early 2002 should be accelerated.
Insiders are expressing optimism that outstanding hurdles can be overcome.
They are taking particular heart at the broad agreement that the authority should have the power to regulate the planting of genetically-modified crops, despite some resistance to including this emotive topic within its scope.
An agreement about the authority's location is also due to be reached at next month's Göteborg summit.
Barcelona, Helsinki, Parma and Lille are all bidding to house its 250-strong staff.
Meanwhile, EU food safety Commissioner David Byrne has expressed disquiet over how over half of the union's 15 governments are not honouring their commitments to submit annual reports on national veterinary inspections for livestock traded between member states.
A senior Byrne aide said the Commission was examining whether legal proceedings should be initiated against the eight states, which have still not forwarded their findings for 1999, despite being obliged to do so by May 2000.
Disagreements over what precisely the proposed European Food Authority should do are threatening to cause lengthy delays in its establishment. The biggest divergence among Member States concerns efforts to include animal health in the authority's brief.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|