Sunday

22nd Apr 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Investigation

MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

MEPs are using so-called 'friendship groups' to cater to foreign governments without oversight and little public scrutiny. Initially set up to promote cultural exchanges, some have become lobbying platforms to push state views from governments with poor human rights records.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights