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Member states give final approval to new EU research commissioner

Image: Mbyalkova [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bulgarian Iliana Ivanova appointed to research and innovation role after sailing through appointment process

Iliana Ivanova has been appointed EU commissioner for research and innovation today, following the approval of the bloc’s member state governments.

The final step in the process followed an easily won vote of approval by MEPs in the European Parliament last week.

Ivanova (pictured) was put forward to become a commissioner by Bulgaria after her predecessor Mariya Gabriel unexpectedly resigned to co-lead a new Bulgarian government earlier this year. Commission president Ursula von der Leyen then nominated Ivanova for Gabriel’s former brief, covering innovation, research, culture, education and youth.

Groups representing European universities and research sector organisations have lent their support to Ivanova, praising her performance in front of MEPs at a joint hearing of the Parliament’s research and education committees.

Safe pair of hands

A former MEP herself, Ivanova has been a member of the European Court of Auditors since 2013 and is considered a safe pair of hands. Lidia Borrell-Damián, secretary general of Science Europe, which represents research funding and performing organisations, said Ivanova “seems to be ready to take on” her portfolio.

Ole Petter Ottersen, acting secretary-general of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, said Ivanova’s priorities “are spot on and very much in line with ours”.

As well as promising to defend the budget of the EU’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, Ivanova said her priorities would include supporting innovation, reducing bureaucracy in applying for funding, and raising the R&I performance of lagging EU member states and regions.

While Ivanova’s appointment will last only for the remainder of the Commission’s current term of office, which runs until 31 October 2024, she will oversee a mid-term assessment of Horizon Europe and have a role in discussions on the EU’s next long-term budget for a period starting in 2028.