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Handling of a potential conflict of interest arising from a staff member's move to the private sector

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  • Case: 775/2010/ANA
    Opened on 25 May 2010 - Recommendation on 07 Dec 2011 - Decision on 23 May 2013
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Food Safety Authority
  • Field(s) of law: General, financial and institutional matters
  • Types of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating to: Other rights and duties resulting from the Staff Regulations and not covered by this list
  • Subject matter(s): Administration and Staff Regulations,Institutional and policy matters
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Summary of the decision on complaint 775/2010/ANA against the European Food Safety Authority

The complaint was submitted by a non-governmental organisation and concerns EFSA's handling of a potential conflict of interest arising from a situation which is referred to as 'revolving doors'.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the allegation that EFSA failed adequately to address the issue of a potential conflict of interest in the move of a former member of its staff to the private sector and related claims.

Following his inquiry into the complaint, the Ombudsman addressed three draft recommendations to EFSA. In its detailed opinion, EFSA argued that it had complied with the Ombudsman's draft recommendations.

In his decision closing the case, the Ombudsman found that:

(i) EFSA has taken action to strengthen its rules and procedures with regard to negotiations by serving staff members concerning future jobs of the 'revolving doors' type and to require serving staff members to disclose them in a timely manner. However, because EFSA unduly restricted the scope of what might amount to a possible conflict of interest in such circumstances, the Ombudsman concluded that EFSA only partially accepted the Ombudsman's first draft recommendation.

(ii) EFSA failed duly to acknowledge its failure to observe the relevant procedural rules and to carry out a sufficiently thorough assessment of the potential conflict of interest arising in the present case and, consequently, failed to implement the Ombudsman's second draft recommendation.

(iii) EFSA has taken action to ensure that, if a similar case arises in the future, it (a) obtains sufficient information, including, as a minimum, a proper account of the tasks carried out at EFSA, a precise description of the proposed new employment, and information concerning possible links between the new and the previous employment, (b) proceeds with an assessment that is as thorough as possible, and (c) properly records the results of its assessment. EFSA therefore accepted and implemented the Ombudsman's third draft recommendation.

In addition, in order to improve on its implementation of the first draft recommendation, the Ombudsman made four further remarks asking EFSA to consider making additional changes to its procedures and forms.