Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

New Commission will see innovation policy strengthened

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/c European Communities, 1999.

Record Control Number: 13253

Date: 1999-07-12

Category: General policy

General Information:

Innovation policy will take on greater significance within a department addressing all aspects of enterprise policy in proposals for the new Commission, due to take office in September 1999, announced by Romano Prodi, President-designate. Unveiling, on 9 July, his proposed team - which must be confirmed by the European Parliament - Mr Prodi announced the creation of a new enterprise department bringing together policies for large and small, traditional and high-tech business. Innovation will be a key element in this new integrated department designed to enhance European competitiveness and economic growth. Erkki Liikanen, the current budget Commissioner, a social democrat from Finland, will head this new department as well as the department for the Information Society.

Prodi's proposals aim to ensure a more comprehensive approach to business, and recognise that while large industrial companies and SMEs face different problems, they are inter-dependent and operate in the same environment. By developing more integrated policies for enterprise the Commission will reduce the fragmentation of policies for large companies and SMEs, helping to foster improved cooperation between the different economic sectors in Europe. The enterprise department will bring together the current industry department (DG III), the SMEs and enterprise department (DG XXIII) and the Innovation Directorate (DG XIII/D). The Information Society is seen as a key driving force behind economic growth, and has a major impact on the development of a learning culture in Europe, hence the pairing of these two departments under Liikanen's responsibility. (The Information Society department will comprise the remainder of the current DG XIII, except the postal services unit.)

Research will be the responsibility of Philippe Busquin, a Belgian socialist, who will also take over responsibility for the Commission's Joint Research Centre. The present research department (DG XII) seems likely to remain relatively unchanged, although the agricultural research activities currently managed by the agriculture department (DG VI) will be integrated.

Other changes, in what Prodi called the 'chance of a fresh start for the Commission', include the establishment of a separate department for public health and consumer protection, and a new department for justice and home affairs. The Commission's departments will no longer be known by their numbers but by clear names, in what is a largely symbolic change designed to facilitate understanding by outsiders. In general Prodi aims to reduce the number of departments, removing overlaps, and rationalising and balancing the spread of portfolios amongst the 20 Commissioners. Neil Kinnock, the Briton currently responsible for transport, will take responsibility for reforming the Commission, bringing it into line with changed political priorities and realities, and making it more effective, and more transparent and accessible to citizens.

The team proposed by Prodi should be formally nominated on 19 July, with Prodi due to present his team to the European Parliament two days later. Each Commissioner-designate will then appear before the Parliamentary Committee(s) relating to their portfolio during the first week in September, before the Parliament votes to confirm the appointments on 15 September. Assuming that approval is granted, the new Commission would take up office on 17 September following formal appointment by the Member States.

Full details of the proposed new Commission may be found on Europa, at:

Data Source Provider: European Commission

Document Reference: Based on information of 9 July.

Subject Index Codes: Policies