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58th Management Board meeting: EFSA board appoints Bernhard Url as Acting Executive Director, discusses Multiannual Plan

Posted: 24 October 2013 | | No comments yet

Dr Url became Deputising Executive Director in July and has been carrying out the role…

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The Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has appointed Bernhard Url as the Authority’s Acting Executive Director. Dr Url became Deputising Executive Director in July and has been carrying out the role following the resignation of Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle on 1 September, 2013.

The Board also discussed a reflection paper setting out the strategic considerations of EFSA’s three-year rolling MultiAnnual Plan (2014-16) following recommendations made by the Board at its last meeting in June. The Plan will be updated and presented to the Board for adoption at its next meeting in December.

Dr Url, who joined EFSA in June 2012 as Director of Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance, now assumes the duties of EFSA Executive Director until a permanent appointment is made following a recruitment procedure to be launched by the European Commission.

A qualified veterinarian by training, Dr. Url was for nearly 10 years Managing Director of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), where he dealt with a wide range of food safety-related areas and ensured effective operations and risk communications in times of crisis. AGES also represents Austria on EFSA’s Advisory Forum. From 2008 to March 2012, Dr Url also served as a member of EFSA’s Management Board.

“I would like to confirm that the Board as the Appointing Authority, based on the criteria we have agreed, has appointed Bernhard Url as Acting Executive Director,” Board chair Sue Davies said.

The European Commission is due to launch a call for the vacancy of EFSA Executive Director and will, in due course, present a list of candidates to the Board. Before appointment by the Board, the nominated candidate will be asked to address the European Parliament and respond to questions.

Board members took the opportunity to express their support for EFSA, its external experts and EFSA’s Policy on Independence following a recently published critical report by an NGO. Members said the European Court of Auditors last year described the Policy as one of the most advanced among EU agencies, and described the attacks as unjustified.

Board members discussed a reflection paper aimed at finalising EFSA’s MultiAnnual Plan (MAP) which takes into consideration a number of strategic objectives as well as Board recommendations of December 2012 based on the findings of the second external evaluation of EFSA. The recommendations were aimed at directing the development of EFSA in the coming years towards a more sustainable, efficient and trusted organisation.

The MAP will feed into a broader review of the corporate EFSA Strategy (2009-2013) which will be redefined for 2014-2018 under the responsibility of the newly appointed Executive Director, and which, by then, will be guided by the EU Multiannual Financial Framework.

EFSA has also responded to the Board’s request to simplify strategic and operational planning and align strategic documents in the main pillars of the EFSA operation (Science, Communications, IT and Human Capital) in one single overarching EFSA Strategy. The plan is for the new EFSA Strategy to cover a six-year period, running from one external evaluation to the next.

The new EFSA Strategy is to be accompanied by operational ‘roadmaps’ for the main pillars of activity, setting out in more detail key objectives and initiatives in line with EFSA’s strategic goals. For example, under Science, objectives include: building a multiannual EU risk assessment agenda; optimising the role of experts, staff and other partners within the risk assessment process; defining EFSA’s international role and building its reputation as a reference point for risk assessment; strengthening the utility and fitness for purpose of EFSA’s scientific advice; increasing trust in EFSA’s work.

The implementation of EFSA’s strategy and operational roadmaps will be supported by the rolling three-year MAP, which will be updated annually in alignment with the annual budgetary and planning cycle.

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