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Decision in case 1107/2020/NH on the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) alleged leak of confidential information on an active substance used in pesticides

Fredag | 12 februar 2021

The case concerned an article published in a French newspaper, in which the journalist claimed to have had access to a confidential letter sent by the complainants to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as part of a process for renewing the approval of an active substance used in pesticides. The complainants contended that EFSA had leaked that letter to the press, and that it did not have appropriate safeguards in place against unauthorised disclosure of confidential information by staff members. The complainants also argued that EFSA had not been objective and impartial in its statements to the press.

The Ombudsman found that the complainants had sent the letter in question not only to EFSA, but to other actors as well. Since EFSA was not the only body in possession of the letter, it was not possible to determine with certainty that EFSA had leaked the letter to the press. EFSA had conducted two internal inquiries into possible leaks and concluded that there was no evidence the leaks had come from an EFSA staff member. The Ombudsman found nothing to suggest that EFSA lacked proper safeguards against leaks. Regarding EFSA’s statements to the press, the Ombudsman concluded that EFSA had not breached its duties of objectivity and impartiality.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry with the finding that there had been no maladministration by EFSA in this case.