Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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EFSA accused of legal bullying by campaign group

EFSA accused of legal bullying by campaign group

Brussels, 27 September – Campaigners today accused the European Food Safety Authority of using legal threats to try and intimidate its critics, after receiving a legal threat from the EU agency [1].

Research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) received a letter from EFSA’s Head of the Legal and Regulatory Affairs Unit following publication of an article highlighting hidden conflicts of interest among members of EFSA’s expert panel responsible for food additives.

The letter targeted a spoof logo used by CEO to illustrate the article on its website [2], which EFSA claimed was unauthorised as the name and logo were protected under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. CEO has responded to the letter [3], pointing out that the illustration does not use EFSA’s name – and that it is a parody of EFSA’s logo, clearly intended to ridicule EFSA’s apparent links to industry and covered by the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Olivier Hoedeman, research coordinator for Corporate Europe Observatory, said:

“EFSA seems intent on using intimidation, rather than providing answers to the questions we have raised about conflicts of interest among the agency’s experts. This kind of legal bullying is no way for an EU-body to deal with serious criticism. EFSA is supposed to represent the public interest, yet is behaving like a private company.”

A number of MEPs have raised questions about EFSA’s independence [4] following a series of critical reports by NGOs [5]. The European Court of Auditors is currently investigating EFSA and other EU agencies over alleged conflicts of interest.

CEO is calling the European Commission to introduce new rules for EFSA and other EU agencies regarding the recruitment of experts, based on including a strong and strictly enforced definition of conflicts of interest, and a requirement for experts’ declarations of interest to be independently audited.



Olivier Hoedeman, tel: +32 (0)2 893 0930 – mobile: +32 (0)474 486 545 – email:





[4] See for example:

[5] See for example:

Corporate Europe Observatory is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.

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