All change at the European Commission
The new European Commission was sworn in a couple of weeks ago, several months late owing to the time it took for the appointees to be approved by the European Parliament. The Commission, whose term runs from 2010 to 2014, is still presided by José Manuel Barroso, but there has been a signiﬁcant revamping of its other members; some have changed portfolios, others are new appointees.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is new to the Commission. She is responsible for research, which means that, among other things, she looks after the ?50 billion Seventh Framework Programme. She is a career politician from Ireland, with several ministerial appointments under her belt, but has no particular background in science or research. Her mandate includes taking “a decisive step forward in building the European Research Area (ERA). Speciﬁc actions which will contribute to this include strengthening intra-EU co-operation, pooling human and ﬁnancial resources across the EU and promoting the ﬁfth freedom - the free movement of knowledge, ideas and researchers.”
Neelie Kroes is the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, in charge of the Information Society and Media Directorate-General - covering, for instance, digital content, access to information/data and e-infrastructure. She is an old-timer on the Commission (of which she is now a Vice-President), having previously looked after the competition portfolio. She too has a political background, having served as a minister in the Dutch government, but she also has some academic credentials, as a former President of Nyenrode Business University. Her mandate includes the establisment of an “integrated single market for the delivery of electronic services” and giving “the possibility to all citizens to acquire e-skills”.
Good luck to them, and let’s wish them both a generous spirit when it comes to the European purse-strings.