The hearings of the Commissioners-designate in the European
Parliament were scheduled to be completed by 8 October. Before the Commissioners
can take office in Ursula Von der Leyen’s College, MEPs will exercise their
legitimate democratic power to scrutinise the nominees.
two Commissioner candidates, Stella Kyriakides (health) and Nicolas Schmit (employment),
see article Sept 2019,
had to attend more than three hours of hearings on 1 October 2019 before MEPs from
the relevant committees.
Social outlook - more rights, more jobs, more inclusion
Luxembourg Minister for Labour and Social Affairs and MEP Nicolas Schmit was
questioned by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on Europe’s social
dimension and future challenges in the world of work.
identified priorities such as boosting employment and promoting social progress
taking into account current challenges such as digitalisation, new forms of
employment and changes in the world of work. New initiatives on his social
policy agenda include a European minimum wage, a European unemployment benefits
reinsurance scheme, and strengthening the European model to finding solutions
to economic and social problems while taking into account the environmental and
sustainability efforts of the EU.
policy objectives also focus on improving access to the labour market for
people with disabilities, combating poverty among vulnerable groups such as
children and young people and creating better starting conditions for their
lives and work. MEPs were interested in concrete legislative proposals and
approaches to financing the measures aimed at achieving a genuine social
Health priorities – cancer, MDR and HTA
Ms Kyriakides has given
the fight against cancer top priority in her action plan for health. The European ‘Beating Cancer Plan’ aims to tackle
the disease holistically at every stage, from prevention through to palliative
care. Ms Kyriakides wants to develop the EU into a best practice region in the
fight against antimicrobial resistance. The ‘Health in all Policies’ approach
will be put to use here by critically observing legislation in veterinary
medicine and medicated animal feed.
medicinal products for medical care comprises several aspects. In the field of
orphan and paediatric medicine, she wants to create incentives for innovation
in the treatment of rare diseases and further develop legislation. In order to
reduce supply bottlenecks, Ms Kyriakides said that international standards
should maintain the supply chain for low-cost medicines.
In terms of further developing
joint health technology assessments for pharmaceuticals, Ms Kyriakides clearly
stated that she is opposed to benefit assessments being voluntary for Member
States. She is seeking consensus with the Council on implementation. As a
short-term priority, the Commissioner-designate mentioned the speedy
implementation of the Medical Devices Regulation and compliance with the
In the area of
digitisation, she addressed the idea of a European Health Data Space with the
aim of facilitating and expanding the exchange of data. This is intended to
boost research and prevention while safeguarding data security and personal
Next steps – Von der Leyen is ultimately responsible
Kyrikides and Nicolas Schmit have both been approved by the relevant committees
and there is no further obstacle to their appointment as commissioners. Two
other candidates from Hungary and Romania were immediately rejected. This
forces Von der Leyen to restructure her team of choice.
On the basis of the
recommendations of the parliamentary committees, the Conference of Presidents
will decide on 17 October whether Parliament has received sufficient
information to declare the consultation process concluded. If so, the plenary
session in Strasbourg on 23 October will vote by simple majority on whether or
not to elect the entire Commission. However, it remains questionable whether
the timetable can be met.