Lisbon Treaty Updates EU; New Commissioners NamedPublished on 2 December 2009 @ 1:09 am
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch
On 1 December, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, bringing a variety of changes across the European Union. Also this week, a new administrative cabinet has been named to represent the European Commission for the next five years, along with some changes in the structure of the EU administrative body.
The new European Union will make some changes in the treatment of intellectual property rights (IPW, European Policy, 16 November 2009).
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced his new cabinet on 27 November, with several new portfolios: Climate Action; Home Affairs; and Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. In addition, other portfolios were rearranged.
Commissioners must be confirmed by Parliament and will appear before parliamentary committees individually from 11-19 January, with a vote of consent on the whole Commission expected on 26 January.
Among the 26 new commissioners (a number of whom simply changed posts), are several in related positions:
Joaquin Almunia (Spain), Competition and vice president of the Commission
Catherine Ashton (United Kingdom), high representative for foreign affairs and vice president of the Commission
Michel Barnier (France), Internal Market and Services
John Dalli (Malta), Health and Consumer Policy (includes plant variety office, disease control and prevention, food safety authority, and the European Medicines Agency, added biotechnology from Environment)
Karel De Gucht (Belgium), trade
Connie Hedegaard (Denmark), Climate Action (to be set up before summer 2010)
Maire Geoghegan-Quinn (Ireland), Research, Innovation and Science
Neelie Kroes (Netherlands), Digital Agenda (was information society, now without media programme unit), first vice-president of the Commission
Günter Oettinger (Germany), Energy (includes the energy part of the executive agency for competitiveness and innovation)
Janez Potočnik (Slovenia), Environment (biotechnology, pesticides and health moves to Health and Consumers)
Olli Rehn (Finland), Economic and Monetary Affairs
The full list of nominated commissioners is here.
The Lisbon Treaty, available here, was agreed in 2007, and is expected to open up European practices and make them more accountable.
Ten examples of benefits for European citizens, cited by the Commission, are:
“- A right for citizens to make a request to the Commission for it to propose a new initiative (“European citizens initiative”)
- Better protection for citizens through the new status given to the Charter of fundamental rights
- Diplomatic and consular protection for all EU citizens when travelling and living abroad
- Mutual assistance against natural or man-made catastrophes inside the Union, such as flooding and forest fires
- New possibilities to deal with cross border effects of energy policy, civil protection and combating serious cross border threats to health
- Common action on dealing with criminal gangs who smuggle people across frontiers
- Common rules to avoid asylum shopping where multiple applications are made to different member countries
- Tackling terrorism through the freezing of assets
- More democratic approach to EU decision-making (strengthened role of European Parliament and national Parliaments)
- An ability to provide urgent financial aid to third countries*
In Washington, DC and Geneva, the former European Commission delegation will now be called the European Union delegation. But there are no immediate changes within the Geneva office, an EU source said.
William New may be reached at email@example.com.