The European Food Safety Authority has "reluctantly" adopted a budget for 2003 of €8.2m (US$8.4m), saying the sum is "insufficient to properly discharge the authority's responsibilities." 

The EFSA said its decision was taken for "procedural reasons only" as it had been warned that if it refused, it would not get a penny.

Andy Stimpson, EFSA spokesman, said the authority had originally asked for €16.5m, but the budgetary committee of the European Parliament had voted to keep half of this in reserve. He said that under EU rules, the budget of independent organisations like the EFSA was determined by the parliament and did not involve the European Commission or the Council.

The EFSA said it was calling on the full Parliament to restore the budget cuts when it met in plenary session this month.