Newly elected EU Commission President Ursula
von der Leyen has put forward her new
team for the European Commission. The two nominees for the Employment and Health portfolios are of
particular relevance to the umbrella organisations of Germany’s social insurance
Contrary to expectations, Sweden’s Minister
for Employment, Ylva Johansson, was not chosen to head up the
Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion but rather her
party colleague Nicolas Schmit (Luxembourg), a social democrat. Schmit was Luxembourg’s
ambassador to the EU and Labour Minister from 2009 to 2018. He was elected to
the European Parliament in May 2019. Schmit was supposed to have become EU
Commissioner in 2014, but had to forego his appointment due to Juncker’s election
as Commission President.
Von der Leyen articulated her social and
employment policy ideas to Mr Schmit in a letter.
With regard to social policy, she talks about developing an action plan for the
full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the introduction
of unemployment reinsurance, a stronger priority for the European Social Fund
and support for the establishment of the European Labour Authority.
In addition, ways must be found to improve
the labour conditions of platform workers. Another focus of Schmit’s mission is
to strengthen social security systems in close cooperation with the Member
States, especially within the framework of the European Semester.
As expected, Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus)
will be responsible for health issues. Ms Kyriakides has many years of
experience in social affairs, health legislation and advancing the prevention
In her letter to Kyriakides, von der Leyen addressed the areas where she wants action taken.
These include ensuring the supply of affordable medicines, e-health, and the
medical devices Regulation.
Ms von der Leyen has also made some slight
adjustments to the Directorates-General in the European Commission. As presumed
and requested, the areas in DG GROW (Internal Market, Industry,
Entrepreneurship and SMEs) responsible for medical devices and pharmaceuticals
will move back to DG SANTE.
This is an important signal for strengthening
health issues in the EU and DG SANTE and reflects the requests we have
repeatedly made in recent years. DG SANTE thus remains the relevant and unified
point of contact for health issues.
Further priorities include the full
implementation of the One Health Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance and
improved communication on vaccination.
In addition, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
is to be further developed in close alignment with the research mission on
cancer in the Horizon Europe programme.
Ms von der Leyen also wants to establish a
European Health Data Space to promote the exchange of health data as part of
e-health, details of which have not yet been given.
Vetting process in European Parliament
Nicolas Schmit and Stella Kyriakides will
now have to appear in a parliamentary hearing before the respective members of
the Employment Committee and the Health Committee.
These are expected to take place between 30
September and 8 October 2019. During the three-hour hearings, all candidates
will have to answer questions from the Committee responsible in their respective
fields, only then will they be approved or rejected.