ECHA pledges to work against conflict of interest risk

New guidelines and policies adopted

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has promised to make transparency and protecting against conflicts of interest a priority, adopting new guidelines and policies on these issues. EU agencies such as the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have come under scrutiny this year for alleged failings on both counts and ECHA has now adopted new rules “for avoiding and managing potential conflicts of interest”.

EU agencies often call on industry experts to help make informed decisions and this has sparked criticism from non-governmental organisations that this erodes objectivity. However, ECHA said its new guidance – which will be published soon – “demonstrates the importance of transparency and independence of decision making” at the agency. It will involve a new declaration of interest for ECHA employees, its management board and other agency bodies. Also an ethical committee will be created, advising on and helping implement the new policy.