Commissioner designate for Research, Innovation and Science promises 'action and delivery' in her hearing

The European Commissioner designate for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, pledged to move research, innovation and science 'to the heart of European policy' in her hearing at the European Parliament on 13 January.

Speaking to the European Parliament's committees on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and Culture and Education (CULT), the new Commissioner designate said that the European Union must become an Innovation Union. 'Knowledge, research and scientific excellence is a cornerstone of innovation,' she stated. 'In the new economy, refined knowledge will replace crude oil as the economy's prime motive force.'

During a confident performance, Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn said that if approved as Commissioner, her policies would focus on three main areas:

  • Completing the creation of the European Research Area (ERA).
  • Addressing societies' grand challenges.
  • Creating an innovation research culture.

In her opening speech, she also highlighted the importance of bringing more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the EU's research programmes, and leveraging additional EU funds, such as the Structural Funds, for research.

If approved by the parliament, Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn would be the first EU Research Commissioner to have 'innovation' added to her job title. Some MEPs pointed out that innovation is a cross-cutting issue covered by many Commissioners' portfolios, and wondered how the Commission as a whole would manage this.

The Commissioner designate replied that she would chair the group of Commissioners whose portfolios involve innovation, and pledged to work closely with Michel Barnier, the Commissioner designate for Internal Market and Services, on issues such as intellectual property rights and patent protection.

Until recently, Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn was a Member of the European Court of Auditors. The hearings of the Commissioners designate began on 12 January and will run until 19 January. The European Parliament will vote on the new Commission on 26 January.