The board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has voiced its concern over the reduced budget earmarked for the authority under the recently agreed European Union Financial Framework for 2007 to 2013, and its negative impact on the EFSA’s work.

When it reached its final budget decision in December, the European Council decided to reduce the budget heading for “Citizenship”, which covers areas such as public health, consumer protection and culture, under which EFSA operates, for the period 2007 to 2013.

In a statement, EFSA said this implies that the growth originally projected for its activities up to 2013 will stop at the end of 2006, well before the authority had reached full capacity. The EFSA board added that this would “significantly reduce EFSA’s ability to provide high quality independent scientific advice, and communicate findings in a timely manner” and could “seriously undermine food safety in Europe.”

In addition, the board said it was particularly concerned that this decision had been taken at a time when the EFSA’s workload was increasing as a result of new European legislation on issues such as health claims, the fortification of foods and additives.

Stuart Slorach, EFSA Management Board chairman, is to contact various European institutions, including the European Parliament, in a bid to have the projected EFSA budget increases reinstated.

The board also announced that it will discuss the Independent EFSA Evaluation Report in March, taking into account comments received during the on-going public consultation, and will finalise its recommendations in June.