MEPs to quiz research commissioner designate Iliana Ivanova in September

25 Jul 2023 | News

The hearing will focus on Ivanova’s competences and her plans for tackling teething problems at the European Innovation Council, the future of fundamental research in the EU framework programme and bridging the east-west gap in research capabilities

Commissioner designate for research and innovation Iliana Ivanova. Photo: European Union

The European Parliament’s industry and culture committees will grill the commissioner designate for research and innovation Iliana Ivanova during a joint hearing on 5 September.

Ivanova was named by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen at the end of June, after a few weeks of speculation over who would replace Mariya Gabriel, who resigned the post in May to form a new government coalition in her home country of Bulgaria.

The hearing will seem familiar to Ivanova, as she is a former MEP and vice chair of the budgetary control committee. In 2013, Ivanova left Parliament to take a job at the European Court of Auditors.

According to a list of questions published by Parliament, MEPs will grill Ivanova on various research issues. Education, culture, youth and sports are also part of the portfolio, but questioning on these topics will be significantly slimmer on research and innovation. 

First on the list, MEPs want to know Ivanova’s views on the Horizon Europe budget, which has been repeatedly tapped for new pet projects by the Commission. The Parliament says the EU research programme is severely underfunded and the new initiatives have piled further pressure on its limited budget.

With European elections next June, Ivanova has a short mandate ahead of her and little time to bring about significant changes to EU research and innovation policy. But MEPs want to know if she has any plans for ensuring Horizon Europe has enough money to meet the demands of EU researchers.

Ivanova will also be asked for her views on the role of the European Research Council and how the EU strikes the right balance between funding for bottom-up research and policy-driven programmes.

In addition, Ivanova will have to respond to questions on the European Innovation Council, the EU’s fund for scaling up start-up companies, whose implementation has been marred by delays, as well as various practical and political issues.

MEPs want to see Ivanova, a Bulgarian national, continue her predecessor’s efforts to reduce the research and innovation gap between east and west and to come up with fresh ideas for increasing participation in Horizon Europe of researchers based in poorer EU member states.

Assuming a positive hearing, MEPs are scheduled to vote on Ivanova’s official appointment to the College of Commissioners during a plenary session on 11-14 September.

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