How does the FVO achieve this?
With a team of some 180 professionals from most EU Member States the FVO’s primary role is to conduct audits or inspections to ensure the national authorities are fulfilling their legal obligations. This can be done during on-the-spot audits, or by desk based exercises or collation of Member States data. The audit is on the system not individual premises and it culminates in a written report. You can find reports for both Member States and non-EU countries by clicking on Audit Reports or on the interactive map.
The office also produces overview reports that provide a summary of a series of audits conducted in a certain sector. This provides information to all stakeholders and contributes to the development of legislation.
Who decides which countries to visit?
On the basis of a multi-annual programme, each year the FVO publishes a work programme. This is produced in consultation with other Commission services and with Member States. It considers risk and trade factors, plus the status of legislation, to prioritise visits. The programme provides a balance between EU Member States and non-EU countries.
What happens during an FVO Audit?
The audit team is typically composed by 2 FVO staff, often with the presence of a national expert from a Member State authority. Gathering information prior to the audit (by sending out an Audit plan) and Pre-audit Questionnaire the team arranges an Audit programme that will typically visit the control authority, a number of regional and local authorities, laboratories and a number of accompanied site visits (e.g. to farms, processors, feed units, slaughterhouses and retailers). The information is gathered to provide a series of findings which are presented at a closing meeting.
What if the audit identifies deficiences?
FVO reports may make recommendations to assist the Competent Authorities in taking corrective measures. The actions made are followed up either admininstratively, in general follow-up audits in Member States, or by on the spot audits.
If non-compliances are sufficiently serious, stronger actions may be taken by the European Commission in agreement with Member States, these include legal action, restrictions or even bans on the movement of goods or animals.
What else does the FVO do?
As well as the individual Audit reports the FVO produces Overview reports which are discussed with stakeholders to help with implementation, or may help in the production of new legislation. These reports may also be used in training sessions, mainly in the framework of the BTSF (Better Training for safer food).
There are also a number of significant non-audit activities carried out by the office, which are explained under Non Audit activities.