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#EAPM – Plenty say ‘nein’, but Ushi seals top job…by nine : EU Reporter China

#EAPM – Plenty say ‘nein’, but Ushi seals top job…by nine

| July 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Health Correspondent

Greetings, and welcome to our latest update in the middle of a week that has already made history, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.

Two of Germany’s most high-profile women have cause for celebration today (17 July). First of all, it’s Chancellor Angela Merkel 65th birthday, and secondly, the ‘Queen of Europe’ was given an early birthday present when her compatriot, ally and former defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, was confirmed by the European Parliament as the first female head of the European Commission.

Congratulations to both, although while Mrs Merkel’s birthday was never in doubt, the appointment of ’Ushi’ was a close call – she finally made it over the line by just nine votes on the back of lots of promises made to lots of people.

It was ever thus…

The hard work starts now as vdL is tasked with putting together a Commission and securing a majority that will work over five years.

Shortly after securing the job of replacing Jean-Claude Juncker as the Berlaymont’s head-honcho on Tuesday evening, Ms von der Leyen presumably chucked most of her summer holiday plans in the bin and said: “I will now work on my work programme for the next month and, of course, I want to form a team -highly-dedicated.Â

“Therefore, today, I am launching my call again for leaders to present the best candidates as European commissioners as possible.â€�Â

The president-elect was sure of the support of her own EPP group in the Parliament, plus Renew Europe and a sizeable chunk of the S&D group. Some ECR deputies and unaffiliates had also pledged support.

By contrast, the far-left and far-right, plus the Greens, were very publicly not on board.

Following the torpedoing of the Spitzenkandidaten process, once French President Emmanuel Macron threw von der Leyen’s name into the hat, she remarkably secured the support of all 28 member state leaders.

Significant, perhaps, was her decision to bounce the not-very-popular although hugely efficient Martin Selmayr out of his powerful post as Commission secretary-general.

Selmayr says he’s moving to Austria, where he has a fair few links both familial and academic, and is looking for a slower pace of life, he says. That shouldn’t be too difficult, Martin…

Going forward…

Back in 2014, Juncker had been in a positionto impose his own policy agenda on Parliament havingbeen elected as a Spitzenkandidat. Ushi, on the other hand, was forced to mix it in discussions with a trio of key political groups, making them promises and, therefore, handing them not inconsiderable power during the next five years.

Today sees von der Leyen head back to Berlin (maybe with a Belgian chocolate birthday cake for her colleague Angela) for her final cabinet appearance. As she is still attending official meetings, she can take a ride on a government plane from Strasbourg to the German capital but, after that, it’s commercial planes all the way. Such is the lot of Commission presidents.

Cancer to the fore

One of Ushi’s pledges prior to her confirmation was the formulation of a plan to fight cancer. She wrote that,as a physician, she is “passionate about health�, adding that cancer will affect 40%of people in their lifetimes.

She continued: “Almost all of us will know the anxiety and grief of a friend or family member diagnosed with cancer.�

Von der Leyen pledged that her plan will “support member states in improving cancer control and careâ€�, adding that “survival rates are on the up, especially thanks to early detection and screening programmesâ€�.Â

“But there is a lot more we can do,� she conceded.

As an EPP representative, the German came under fire in Strasbourg from Portuguese MEP Paulo Rangel who said it was “a shame� that von der Leyen hadn’t underlined the EPP’s own plansto tackle cancer.

“It was a long battle within our group and we very much hope it’s something the Commission will move forward on,� the Portuguese said.

EAPM is, of course, pursuing its GOAL! initiative alongside MEGA+ which cover, respectively, the use of genomics in the fight against cancer, and the use of the best healthcare data to improve personalised medicine options and promote healthier citizens.

Both initiatives will see the Alliance heavily involved in ongoing engagement with the new Commission and new Parliament.

Von der Leyen pledges

The candidate for president of the Commission pledged before her election to put forward a green deal in Europe in her first 100 days in office.

This willset the 2050 carbon neutral target in law and seek to have a 2030 binding minimum target of 50-55% in respect ofcarbon emission cuts. Von der Leyen emphasised that the most pressing challenge is keeping the planet healthy.

Digitalisation is another enormous challenge, she said,and the EU must become a major player in the cyber world to embrace the changes, necessitating more and better cooperation between Member States.

Von der Leyen also underlined the need for a strong economy. What needs to be spent must be earned first, she said. SMEs must be strengthened as they are the backbone of the economy, butthey need access to capital to be allowed to innovate.

She highlighted that she standsfor fair taxation. This is particularly in the case of large tech companieswhomust pay their proper share of taxes.

Regarding Brexit, Ursula von der Leyensaid she both regretted and accepted the decision. She said she is preparedto extend the timeline for withdrawal discussions, in the right circumstances.

Crucially for Parliament and EU democracy, she supports a ‘right of initiative’for the institution, saying that when resolutions are adopted, she willcommit to responding with legislation. This because a stronger partnership would further help to make people’s voices heard, she believes.

What they said

Manfred Weber, the derailed Spitzenkandidat for the EPP, said he supported von der Leyen’s candidacy. More than 200 million people took part in the May elections and they all shared one wish, he said, “to participate in a democratic Europe.Â

“Over the next five years, the principle of a united Europe must be fought for,” Weber added.

Following the vote, Renew Europe President Dacian CioloÈ™, said: “It is a great day for Europe to have a woman elected to lead the European Commission. We are ready to work with her on the political priorities Renew Europe negotiated with her.   Â

“For the first time ever, a deep discussion took place between the President-Designate and the key political groups in the Parliament to set out the political agenda for the next five years, including (the) Conference on the Future of Europe (set for 2020).â€� Â

The S&D Group’s Iratxe García Pérez stated that her political group has pro-Europeanism in its veins, and wants to see a sustainable project and future being built for all, including faster progress being made in Europe regarding democracy.Â

Green Philippe Lambert said that the house was on fire due to climate change, social issues and an undermining of the Rule of Law. He noted that Ms von der Leyen showed commitment to moving towards gender parity as well as to cuts in emissions, which he supported.Â

However, he questioned why she didn’t mention biodiversity, adding that her ambitions fall short in this regard. Lambert said that the Greens could not support her candidacy and that the actual vote itself was premature.

And for those of you that actually care, the UK Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage said that Von der Leyen wanted to take absolute control of every aspect of people’s lives, adding that it was a rehashed form of communism.Â

He accused the candidate of being a fanatic when it comes to building a European army, and called on all members present in Strasbourg to vote against her candidacy.

For her part, von der Leyen said that Farage’s comments showed the need for everyone to work together more closely. In Europe, countries come together on a voluntary basis and there is no coercion. Only by working together can member states face up to global challenges, she said.Â

The EPP’s Dubravka Å uica supported Von der Leyen’s approach to gender equality, while regretting that her speech did not mention the current differences between old and new member states.Â

Meanwhile Ireland’s Sean Kelly (also EPP) welcomed the candidate, saying she was well equipped to do the job of Commission president.Â

Kelly said he supported her stance on Brexit and asked her to further underline her support for Ireland in the future.

Digital solutions

As noted above, von der Leyen wants the EU to be a big player in the digital world, and Finland want the whole process of finding digital solutions speeded up in the promotion of health, health care and social policies.

The Finnish Council presidency made the point in draft Council conclusions on the economy of wellbeing, which its EU presidency is prioritising.

Among other topics, the conclusions call on EU countries and the Commission to anticipate the effects of ageing and promote healthy and active ageing in all policies, while mentioning shortages and the high prices of medicines as potentially preventing access to cost-efficient and affordable medical treatments at the same time as threatening the sustainability of health systems.

At least the rotating presidency and the incoming Commission chief agree on this. Which is a pretty good start, all things considered.

Source:: EU Reporter Feed

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