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New JRC head promises transparency and experimentation

Image: Etienne Ansotte, European Union 2014

Civil servants ‘should not stop trying out new ideas’, says Stephen Quest

Stephen Quest, the new director-general of the Joint Research Centre, has said that transparency and trustworthiness will be his “guiding principles” during his time at the helm of the European Commission evidence-for-policy unit.

In an in-house interview published on 4 May, four days after he took up his JRC role, Quest also indicated he would get his staff “experimenting and trying out new ideas”.

“I also very much like pushing ‘at the edges’, playing with innovation and making things happen–both in terms of policy delivery and organisational development,” he said. But he acknowledged steep challenges ahead for the JRC, including Covid-19, the need for green transformation and the impact of digitisation on EU society.

Quest has worked in the Commission since 1993, most recently leading its taxation and customs union department since 2016. Before that he led its department for digital infrastructure and services for three years.