Politics / Law
Barroso wants to establish new Super EU Commissioner for biotech
Brussels – John Dalli from Malta will be given almost all-important competencies, in the area of biotechnology in the next European Commission. The re-elected Commission President Manuel Barroso has concentrated a huge array of important responsibilities with Dalli who is to lead the DG Sanco. Dalli will take over liability for the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), and a cosmetics unit from DG Enterprise and Industry. The current Maltese Minister for Social Policy will take over all responsibilities for agribiotechnology - together with those relating to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) - from the DG Environment, which will now be led by the former Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. In addition, Dalli will control the EU’s Plant Variety Office, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), and will take over from Potocnik’s new authority the competencies for consumer protection, together with those for the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC). The Maltese nationalist party member is thought to be a strong supporter of biotechnology, although his country is a blank spot on the biotech map. The new Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy has told the media that “the ideal investment for his country should target biotech, pharma or electronics.” Barroso’s decision to give large biotech competencies to a single commissioner comes after conflicts over agribiotech in the former Commission between the GMO-supporting commissioners Verheugen (Industry), Fisher-Boel (Agriculture), Potocnik (Research), and the former GMO sceptical Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. Another important commissioner in the area of biotech will be Dacian Cilios. The former Romanian Minister for Agriculture oversaw decisions both backing GM maize and rejecting a GM potato. Furthermore, the new Research Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn will be overseeing the
Joint Research Centres (JRC), the European Research Council (ERC, and its executive agency ERCEA), as well as the Research Executive Agency (REA). The newly established Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, will play an important role in branches of industrial biotech involved in the fermentation of renewable feedstocks and in the biotech production of carbon dioxide-consuming platform chemicals. Her new DG Climate Action has taken over most of the divisions of the previous Directorate C of Potocnik’s DG Environment. Information on all the new commissioners-to-be can be found here. The new Commission must next gain approval from the European Parliament before taking office for a term running until 31 October 2014. The vote of consent on the new Commission as a whole is expected to take place on 26 January. The Commission will be appointed by the European Council on the basis of this vote, at which point it will finally begin work.