Thursday

18th Oct 2018

Juncker defends lobby-friendly restructuring of commission services

  • Will business or health come first in the new EU commission? (Photo: Grumpy-Puddin)

New EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has defended his decision to shift the health technology and pharmaceutical policy services back to the more lobby-friendly internal market directorate - a move that has been criticised by MEPs and NGOs.

In the last Barroso commission, the units dealing with medical devices, health technology and cosmetics were part of DG Sanco - the health directorate. Juncker's reorganisation of the commission services has moved these units back to internal market, where they were up until 2005.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The European Medicines Agency, a London-based EU agency responsible for market authorisation of pharmaceutical products, will now respond to both DG Sanco and DG Markt.

This has caused an outcry in the European Parliament. Its president Martin Schulz on 26 September wrote a letter to Juncker demanding the units be moved back to the health directorate and the medicines agency be under the sole responsibility of DG Sanco.

In a letter to European Parliament chief Martin Schulz, dated 29 September and seen by EUobserver, Juncker justifies the move as part of his strategy for a "deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base”.

He also reassures MEPs that "as president of the commission I will make sure that public health will be at least as important in our policies as internal market considerations".

Juncker said he decided to establish a new portfolio and a new directorate-general "responsible for the whole legislation governing the internal market of products and services (apart from financial services)".

"Health technology products, cosmetics and medicinal products will be part of this new portfolio which is being entrusted to [Poland's] Ms Elzbieta Bienkowska," Juncker explains.

In another letter, written to NGOs who also protested the move, Juncker suggested that he had to beef up the portfolio in order to convince Poland to send a woman commissioner.

"I have entrusted this portfolio to Ms Elzbieta Bienkowska, for whose appointment I had to struggle during the whole summer in order to enhance the participation of strong, experienced women in my commission, as requested by the European Parliament," he told the civil society groups.

He added that public health and food safety issues will be overseen by Lithuania's former health minister Vytenis Andriukaitis, who is to run two directorates responsible for public health, health systems, health strategy, and health technology assessment.

"In addition, I have transferred the competence for dealing with food waste and biocides to this portfolio," Juncker writes.

Along with MEPs and NGOs dealing with health issues, Belgian health minister Laurette Onkelinx, also described the move as an "incomprehensible step backward".

"The breast implant scandal should remind the European Commission that considering a health product a commodity seriously puts public health at risk. It is time to stop commercialising healthcare,” Onkelinx wrote in a press release, referring to a health crisis in 2013.

She also brought the issue up in an informal meeting of EU health ministers, where nine other countries voiced concerns about Juncker's restructuring.

A lobbyist who works for the pharmaceuticals industry, but who asked not to be identified, told this website that the move will "make our life much easier" because DG Markt is more "pragmatic" about holding meetings with industry chiefs.

"Back when they were in DG Sanco, even setting up a meeting with officials, to explain our views to them, was impossible," the lobbyist said.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Exclusive

Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch

The commission heavily redacted documents released to EUobserver because they were reportedly 'out of scope'. Transparency campaigner Helen Darbishire says however the information was "clearly directly relevant to the request".

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  2. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  3. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  4. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  5. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  6. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  7. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  8. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us