Commission research department appoints new director for ‘common policy’

13 Jun 2024 | News

Pauline Rouch is set to take on the new position after Draghi’s European competitiveness report is out

Pauline Rouch, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria), the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. Photo credits: Aurore Martignoni / European Union

The European Commission has appointed Pauline Rouch to lead the work of the Common Policy Centre in the directorate general for research (DG RTD).

The change is part of a string of reshuffles at DG RTD since chief Marc Lemaitre took over research and innovation policy leadership at the Commission last year. However, the Commission has yet to announce an exact date when Rouch will take on the role, which is currently being filled by RTD’s Joanna Drake in an acting capacity.

Rouch is a French national and has nearly two decades of professional experience working across several departments at the Commission. She is now heading the office in charge of helping Mario Draghi, former Italian prime minister and ex-president of the European Central Bank, who is currently working on a report on EU competitiveness that is due to be published in the first half of July.

The common policy directorate is responsible for EU policy on research, science and innovation. It analyses how research policies help spur economic growth, create jobs and tackle societal challenges.

The Commission hopes Rouch will, Leverage her extensive knowledge across various policy areas, particularly focusing on innovation, research, and digital policies, along with her proven leadership, management, and negotiation skills.”

Rouch has also served as head of cabinet for Mariya Gabriel, former EU commissioner for research and innovation, now Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister, where she worked on implementation of the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes.

She was also the Commission representative in Coreper I, a permanent group of EU in diplomats in the Council, and head of unit at the secretariat general of the Commission.

In 2019, Rouch was a member of the transition team for Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and was also in the cabinet of former Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Other changes in RTD

Earlier this year, Peter Dröll, a director in charge of ‘prosperity’ at DG RTD announced he will retire from the Commission.

Maria Cristina Russo, director for international cooperation has taken over from Dröll, while deputy director general Signe Ratso is temporarily replacing Russo at the helm of the international cooperation directorate.

Last year, the Commission announced  the creation of a new unit E4: Industry 5.0 and AI in science’, as part of efforts to respond to the revolution generative AI promises to bring to science.

Generative AI models are being fed enormous amounts of data, based on which they can write scientific papers, computer code, and – key to RTD – research proposals. In the future, the technology could fuel scientific discoveries by accelerating the rate at which researchers can discover new molecules or materials and generate new hypotheses.

Also last year, the Commission reorganised RTD to give it better oversight of the European Innovation Council (EIC). The management of the innovation funding programme was moved from a Commission agency to a new RTD unit, in the directorate for the European Research Area led by Anna Panagopoulou.

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