We already know the new Commissioner-designate in the new European Commission. In this short summary we are taking a closer look at the new Cypriot Commissioner-designate for Health, Stella Kyriakides. In her new role, she will be tasked with supporting the European pharmaceutical industry, ensuring the supply of affordable medicines, creating a European Health Data Space and putting forward Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. There will be also some changes in the related Directorate General that received new units.
Following the hearing before the European Parliament, Stella Kyriakides has been approved for the position of the Health Commissioner. In her hearing she stressed commitment to make a mark in patient care in Europe and her dedication to contribute to the fight against cancer. The hearing was positively received, and she was described as convincing; showing determination, integrity, leadership, expertise as well as concern for patients and empathy.
Stella Kyriakides, born in 1956, is a medical psychologist and member of the Cypriot Christian-democratic party (DISY), holding the position of Vice-president since 2013. In October 2017, she was elected President of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe until January 2018. Before joining politics, she worked for 27 years at the Ministry of Health of Cyprus in the department of Child and Adolescent psychiatry. In addition to her parliamentary activities, in 1999, Kyriakides was appointed as the President of the First Breast Cancer Movement in Cyprus and, in 2016, as President of the National Committee on Cancer Strategy of the Council in 2016.
She will have increased attributions compared to her predecessor, as she will oversee the regulation of medical devices and pharmaceuticals, previously under the competence of the Internal Market and Industry Commissioner. This means that Directorate responsible for Health (SANTE) is consolidating authority over health policy with the two units responsible for medical devices and pharmaceuticals being moved to SANTE in the upcoming Commission.
With increased powers, Stella Kyriakides is tasked with striking a difficult balance between making sure there is a steady supply of affordable medicines and ensuring that EU pharma industry remains a world leader in innovation.
As stated in her mission letter drafted by President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, she is expected to present a legislative proposal for a new regulatory framework on medical devices, with the aim of protecting patients.
The other biggest issue of her mandate is the preparation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, which is supposed to be a support tool for member states to improve national cancer prevention and care systems.
Finding a balance between access to medicine and innovation seems to be one of the hardest tasks. Other priorities such as the e-health development, the commitment to the European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance, vaccines promotion, and even reducing dependency on pesticides are substantially in continuity with previous mandate.
Based on the committees’ recommendations, the Conference of Presidents will decide on 17 October if Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote on whether or not to elect the Commission as a whole on 23 October, in Strasbourg. However, some delays are expected as not all 27 proposed Commissioners have passed through the Parliament hearings.