Máire Geoghegan-Quinn EU’s new R&D commissioner

27 Nov 2009

Former Fianna Fail minister Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has been named the new EU Commissioner responsible for research and innovation, the Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD said today at Intel in Leixlip, where he was attending an event to celebrate 20 years of Intel in Ireland.

“In putting forward Máire Geoghegan-Quinn as Ireland’s nominee for the new commission, I felt that a candidate of very strong credentials and experience would help us to get a substantial portfolio in the new commission,” Cowen said.

“I am delighted to announce today that we have secured the hugely important research and innovation portfolio, which resonates very strongly with our own Smart Economy agenda. It is testament to the calibre of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn that she has been allocated this portfolio.”

Cowen added that European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso has stressed recently that, in the context of moving towards a more competitive, more sustainable and fairer economy … “a top priority would be new sources of growth based on the famous knowledge triangle of research, education and innovation.”

What the job entails

In this context, he said the research and innovation commissioner will play a key role in the drive to maintain and create jobs, and stimulate economic growth, in Europe.

The portfolio includes the European Union’s important Research Framework Programme, which has a budget of in excess of €50 billion over seven years (2007-2013).

The EU research agenda spans a wide range of areas, including information and communication technology and science, but also extending to other crucial policy areas, such as climate change, energy efficiency, health and food security.

Geoghegan-Quinn’s background

Cowen nominated Geoghegan-Quinn before last week’s European Council meeting, stressing that her extensive ministerial experience combined with her more recent role as member of the European Court of Auditors meant she was well placed to secure a substantial portfolio.

He has had several discussions with Barroso in the recent past, during which he indicated that Ireland would be keen to get the research and innovation portfolio.

Making the announcement at Intel this morning, Cowen added: “It is very fitting that I can announce this portfolio allocation here today, as we celebrate 20 years presence in Ireland for a company whose name – Intel – is a byword for research and innovation.”

The research and innovation portfolio will also cover the main EU research institutes and structures, including The Joint Research Centre (JRC), The European Research Council (ERC), The Research Executive Agency (REA) and The European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA).

By John Kennedy

Photo: Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has been appointed EU Commissioner responsible for research and innovation.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years