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New Commission voted in: new era for device industry under DG Sanco
09 February 2010
Amanda Maxwell

The European Parliament today gave the go-ahead to President José Manuel Barroso’s new European Commission, confirming that John Dalli is the new man responsible for Directorate General Health and Social Affairs, and now also for the regulation of the medtech and pharmaceutical industries.

The vote heralds a new era for manufacturers of healthcare products, with all the uncertainty that entails, not least in an environment where the medtech industry has long been fighting against pressure for a more prescriptive regulatory approach.

But for many, it comes as a relief. There has been an eight-month hiatus in EU governance during what is the worst economic crisis in the living memory of most.

Eucomed reacts swiftly

Industry association, Eucomed, put out a statement immediately highlighting that building engagement with the new European Commission is a priority for the association to raise awareness and understanding of the sector.

John Wilkinson, chief executive of Eucomed, said: “A new Commission always brings new challenges for an association like ours as we need to work with many new people. At the same time, it is an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits that the medical technology industry brings to society. In that sense, the Exploratory Process will already help us considerably to raise awareness and to improve understanding of our sector.”

Eucomed also emphasised that DG Trade, DG Industry and Entrepreneurship and DG Research, Innovation and Science would continue to be of importance to the medical technology industry.

“Our sector is one of the most innovative in Europe and contributes effectively to achieving their goals” said Mr Wilkinson.

Eucomed added that it is committed to supporting Dalli’s underlying approach of “patients first”, as this could be pursued in ways that do not strangle the SME-led industry or restrict its competitiveness.

Barroso’s priorities

Mr Barroso said that the European Commission’s priorities over the next five years will be: to help EU countries to put the economic crisis behind them; take the global lead on climate change; and make Europe more energy efficient. He also spoke of creating a “real economic union”.

The European Parliament elected the new European Commission by 488 votes in favour, 137 against and 72 abstentions in Strasbourg on Tuesday. The vote was a single vote on the whole College of Commissioners, consisting of one Commissioner from each of the 27 EU member states.

EP gets foothold law-making

Additionally, members of the European Parliament today also voted strongly in favour of a set of principles governing future relations between the Commission and the European Parliament.

The resolution, the content of which is to be enshrined in a formal agreement later this year, strengthens parliament legislative initiative rights, enhances its role in international agreements and opens the door to it forcing the resignation of individual commissioners.

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