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Economist and lawyer nominated for key science-related EU posts

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Carlos Moedas
Courtesy EC

UPDATE 22 October:  the European Parliament has approved the new commission with 423 votes in favour, 67 abstentions and 209 votes against. Ahead of the vote, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced that, in response to concerns expressed by the Parliament, responsibility for medicines and pharmaceuticals would remain with the Directorate-General for Health, rather than move to Directorate-General for Enterprise as originally proposed. Carlos Moedas and Miguel Arias Cañete will begin their five-year term of office on 1 November alongside the rest of the new Commission.

Portuguese economist Carlos Moedas has been nominated as new European Union commissioner for research, science and innovation. Spain’s Miguel Arias Cañete, a lawyer, has been nominated as commissioner for energy and climate change.

Commission president Jean-Claude Junker announced the two nominations, along with those of the 26 other commissioners, on 10 September.

The commission has to be approved by the European Parliament before taking office on 1 November, and this may not be a shoo-in. In 2007 the Parliament exercised this veto right because it disapproved of one proposed commissioner, and the commission president had to submit a new line-up.

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Miguel Arias Cañete
Courtesy EC

Arias Cañete’s appointment in particular could prove controversial. Parliament might ask him to prove that he is not sexist — despite his widely publicized comments during a debate earlier this year in which he expressed his difficulty in politically challenging a woman for fear of “cornering” someone defenceless.

The new research commission will oversee the progress of the European Union’s €80-billion (US$103-billion) Horizon 2020 research programme, which launched this year.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Gibney.

 

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