Appointment of new research commissioner has been pushed into the autumn, with MEPs on the industry and culture committees not expected to organise a joint hearing until September at the earliest
The timetable for the new research commissioner Iliana Ivanova to take office has been pushed into the autumn, as her hearing before the industry and culture committees of the European Parliament will not be scheduled before the summer holidays.
Ivanova was nominated last week by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to replace Mariya Gabriel, who resigned her post in May to form a new government coalition in Bulgaria.
But before she can take up the job, Ivanova must seek the formal approval of the European Parliament and appear at a joint hearing organised by the Parliament’s committees for industry, research and energy (ITRE), and culture and education (CULT).
However, Parliament goes on a three week holiday at the end of July, with the last plenary being scheduled between 10 and 13 July, and a round of committee meetings one week later. According to sources in the Parliament, MEPs will not be able to schedule a hearing for Ivanova this month, and are instead planning to organise it in the second half of September.
Before that MEPs in the two committees will draft written questions which will be sent to Ivanova and made public by the end of July.
The exact timetable for the written questions and the public hearing is still being discussed by the ITRE and CULT committees with more details expected later this month.
“Most likely, the phase of written questions could be done before the summer recess, and the hearings in September, but this is still to be discussed,” a spokesman for the Parliament told Science|Business.
In the meantime, commission vice president Margrethe Vestager has temporarily taken over the innovation and research part of Gabriel’s portfolio, and vice president Margaritis Schinas is looking after education, culture and youth.
In April, Vestager recruited Liviu Știrbăț, a former head of unit in the Commission’s research and innovation department (DG RTD), to cover research and innovation, and space policy in her cabinet. But with Ivanova’s appointment, along with Vestager’s intention to apply for the top job at the European Investment Bank, it is unclear who is in charge of research and innovation at the top of the Commission.
In addition, the new director general of DG RTD Marc Lemaître is preparing a second reshuffle in his department. Back in May, he reorganised the directorate to give to give it better oversight of the European Innovation Council (EIC).
With European elections scheduled for 6 to 9 June next year leading to the formation of a new college of commissioners, Ivanova’s mandate will be short.