Brussels, 12 Mar 2003
[...] III. Analysis of the common position
A. General comments
The common position is substantially in accordance with the positions taken by the Commission and the Parliament, insofar as it
- confirms all the objectives and essential elements of the Commission's proposal which were also supported by the European Parliament;
- takes the greatest possible account of the opinion of the European Parliament by taking on, in letter or in spirit, a great number of its amendments.
On its own initiative, the Council also felt it appropriate to introduce a range of amendments in its common position, either to clarify the scope of certain provisions, or to make the wording of the Regulation more explicit and thus ensure legal certainty, or to increase its consistency with other Community acts.
B. Specific comments
1. Main provisions of the common position
(a) Authorisation procedure established for genetically modified food and feed (Articles 5, 6, 7, 17, 18 and 19)
The Council has entirely followed the solutions proposed on this subject by the Commission, and supported by the Parliament.
The new authorisation procedures for genetically modified food will reproduce the new principles introduced in Directive 2001/18/EC and will make use of the new framework for the food safety risk assessment set by Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002.
The placing on the market of genetically modified food and feed will therefore only be authorised after an independent and rigorous assessment of the risks which they might carry for human and animal health and, where appropriate, the environment. This assessment, which will be carried out under the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority, will be followed by a risk management decision taken by the Community, in the framework of a regulatory procedure which will ensure close cooperation between the Commission and the Member States.
However, two significant amendments have been introduced to this procedure by the Council:
- the request for authorisation must be addressed to the Authority not directly, but through the intermediary of a Member State,
- regarding environmental risk assessment, when the request relates to GMOs to be used as seed or other plant propagating material, the Authority will ask a competent national authority to carry out the assessment itself.