New Commission appointments spell changes in research, science and education directorates

13 Jul 2023 | News

Commission announces new appointments at the education directorate and the Joint Research Centre, with more changes expected at the research directorate

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, the new director general for DG EAC. Photo: Valentine Zeler / European Union

There’s a change of personnel in some of the European Commission’s top jobs, with a new chief at the education and culture directorate (DG EAC) and the appointment of a director to head the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) new digital and data directorate.

Danish bureaucrat Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen is the new director general for DG EAC, overseeing the €26.6 billion Erasmus+ education and mobility programme.

Ahrenkilde is currently head of the communication directorate and has held many communication-related roles, including chief spokeswoman, during an almost three decades long career at the Commission.

The JRC meanwhile will see Francesca Campolongo appointed as head a new digital and data directorate, set up to carry out policy research for data management and information and communications technology support and governance.

The Italian has worked for the JRC for 23 years, focusing on economic and financial resilience for the past decade. Previously, she worked on global security at the JRC’s Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen.

Further changes are expected at DG RTD in the next few months, with Julien Guerrier, head of the directorate’s Common Policy Centre, which develops the overall policy for the €95.5 Horizon Europe programme, said by sources to be gearing up to leave for a new job in Asia.

Guerrier has worked for the Commission for more than 25 years, focusing on industrial and research policy, including jobs such as leading the European Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) for three years.

He also has experience heading the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation in Tokyo. His rumoured departure to Asia would see him following in the footsteps of former DG RTD director general Jean-Eric Paquet, who left the directorate to become EU ambassador in Japan last September.

And a wider staff reshuffle at DG RTD is also in motion with the directorate, which employs 950 staff currently, set to cut around 75 positions in the next three years, as part of a Commission-wide effort to slim down operations.

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