The head of the European Food Safety Authority, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, is stepping down to return to the French government.

Geslain-Lanéelle, EFSA’s executive director since 2006, will become director general for for agricultural, agri-food and territorial policies in the French Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry in September. Her career includes a stint as director general for food at the ministry between 2000 and 2003.

“With the precious support of the EFSA management board, our close co-operation with national food safety agencies and our engagement with stakeholders, we have made important progress in protecting consumers and building confidence in the EU food chain,” Geslain-Lanéelle said.

Bernhard Url, who is charge of EFSA’s Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance Directorate, will lead the food watchdog until an interim executive director is appointed in October. The European Commission will start to look for a permanent replacement, Sue Davies, chair of EFSA’s management board, said.

On Geslain-Lanéelle’s tenure, Davies added: “EFSA has developed significantly, producing thousands of high quality opinions to help ensure that European consumers have safe food to eat. Catherine has also been very committed to improving EFSA’s efficiency and enhancing its processes to ensure that it operates openly, transparently and independently.”