New European Commission Team

New European Commission officially unveiled yesterday – Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus) is the new Commissioner for Health

On Tuesday, Commission President-elect Ursula Von Der Leyen presented her team and the new structure of the next Commission.

  • Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus) has been unveiled as the new European Commissioner for Health (more below) – it is the first time that a self declared patient advocate (as well as cancer survivor) takes this very important post.
  • Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria) will be responsible for Innovation and Youth, including Research (and funding for Horizon Europe)
  • Nicolas Schmidt (Luxembourg) will be in charge of Jobs and Social issues (including the implementation of the European Social Pillar)
  • Helena Dalli(Malta) will be leading the newly created post of Equality Commissioner

Of course, the new Commissioner for Health is the one that is most interesting for our policy work. Stella Kyriakides (62), a clinical psychologist, will be leaving her post of Chairwoman of the Cypriot House Standing Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women.

  • She has been in the Cypriot Parliament since 2006, covering also the role of Deputy Chairwoman of the House Standing Committee on Health Affairs.
  • She has also been the Chairwoman of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE – nb not a European Union body) (January 2016-October 2017) and author of a report on Ensuring Access to Healthcare for All Children in Europe (available here).
  • However, we can also see she has championed patients rights, primarily on cancer and at European level, having been President of the Europa Donna European Breast Cancer Coalition (2004-2006);  President of the Europa Donna Cyprus Breast Cancer Forum (2000-2015); Chairwoman of the Patient Advisory Committee (PAC) of the European Cancer Organisation (2010-2012); President of the National Committee on Cancer since 28 September 2016.

It is no surprise then to see that President-elect Von Leyden entrusted Kyriakides to put forward Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to support Member States to improve cancer prevention and care in her mission letter. The new Commissioner will need to address other issues, including to ‘look at ways to help ensure Europe has the supply of affordable medicines to meet its needs. In doing so, you should support the European pharmaceutical industry to ensure that it remains an innovator and world leader’. Furthermore, she will be tasked to develop a ‘European Health Data Space to promote health-data exchange and support research on new preventive strategies, as well as on treatments, medicines, medical devices and outcomes’.

 

Next steps

 

The European Parliament has to give its consent to the entire College of Commissioners, including the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. This will take place most likely in October through a series of confirmatory hearings for the newly nominated European Commissioners.

Once the Parliament has given its consent, the European Council will formally appoint the Commission, in line with Article 17(7) TEU, and then the Commission could start its work on 1 November 2019, barring problems in the confirmation hearings.

 

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