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Vytenis Andriukaitis (Lithuania) will be the new European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

Monday 15 September 2014

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker outlined in his mission letter to the new Commissioner the key priorities …

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker outlined in his mission letter to the new Commissioner the key priorities for the new Commissioner in health, particularly around developing expertise on performance assessments of health systems as well as using EU-funded research on quality/productivity, and effectiveness of public expenditure to inform the European Semester. This may be an indication that future Commission priorities will be more closely tied to the European Semester, focusing ever more so on not only sustainability of healthcare, but efficiency and efficacy.

For your information: Vytenis Andriukaitis is the first Health Commissioner with a background in healthcare. He began his career as a surgeon, specialising in trauma, orthopaedics and then cardiovascular surgery. Most recently in his political career, he served as Lithuanian Health Minister. He has been an advocate for investment in health, and publicly stated the need for Europe to focus more on health promotion and prevention. However, we will have a better indication of the Commissioner’s potential priorities for health during the European Parliamentary hearings. MEPs have the opportunity to question Mr. Andriukaitis, and such questions will impact the priorities of the Commission moving forward.

With the new appointment there will also be some organisational changes within the Commission services, namely the migration of some units in DG SANCO to DG ENTR:

Changes to DG Health and Consumers (SANCO):
- Units SANCO B2 (Health Technology and Cosmetics), SANCO D5 (Medicinal Products – Authorisations, European Medicines Agency) and SANCO D6 (Medical Products – Quality, Safety and Efficacy) move from DG SANCO to DG Enterprise and Industry (ENTR).
- Directorate SANCO B (Consumer Affairs) moves from DG SANCO to DG Justice (JUST), except for Unit SANCO B2 (Health Technology and Cosmetics), which moves from DG SANCO to DG Enterprise and Industry (ENTR).

Also, under Commission President Juncker there is also a re-organisation of the Commission-designates with the Commission divided into 7 teams, headed by 7 vice-presidents. Theoretically, this means that Commissioners will work together more frequently, perhaps better supporting health in all policies.

The next steps/timeline for confirming the Commissioner are below:

- 11 September Conference of Presidents meets to finalise schedule of hearings
- 10 to 15 September Adoption of the three specific questions for the nominees by the competent committees
- 16 September Committee questionnaires
- 26 September Deadline for nominees to respond to the questionnaires
- 29 September-3 October Confirmation hearings
- 6-9 October Extraordinary meeting of the Conference of Committee Chairs to evaluate the outcome of the hearings
- 21 October Final vote on college confirmation by the European Parliament in Strasbourg
- 23 October Final vote on college confirmation by the European Council in Brussels
- 1 November The new Commission takes office

On 12-13.09.2014, Bert Van Caelenberg was present at a seminar organised by LDF, there he made first contact with the administration of Lithuania. Read full Article.


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