Universities taking note: The European Commission’s Reshuffle of Senior Management.

Jean Claude Juncker has made several changes to the composition of key Directorate Generals. The European Commission divides its ‘ministries’ into Directorate Generals (DGs), with the most senior position being Commissioner, who is responsible for political direction.

These changes affect those at Director General level. The Director General is directly answerable to the Commissioner and administers these political priorities.

Key changes for Universities to be aware of:

Research and Innovation Director General Robert-Jan Smits will be replaced by Jean-Eric Paquet.

Mr Paquet has been serving as one of the three Deputy Secretaries-General of the Juncker Commission since November 2015. The Deputy Secretary General is one of the most powerful offices in the Commission administration, and the move is said to signal an intention to bring closer cooperation and strengthen ties between research and other intersecting policy areas. His CV shows he has a lot of experience with transport policy, particularly the Connecting Europe Facility and T-ENT, and pan-European infrastructure funding instrument that a number of universities benefit from.

Signe Ratso, Mr Paquet’s current deputy, will be following him over to DG Research and Innovation as the new Deputy Director-General. Ms Ratso has over a decade of experience in trade policy, specifically with questions related to market access and industry; two areas that are increasingly important when shaping the EU's policy on research and innovation.

Education and Culture Director General Martine Reicharts will be replaced by Themis Christophidou.

Ms Christophidou has served in the European Commission for 17 years, and is coming over from her position as Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, where she has worked since November 2014. DG Education and Culture is responsible for the Creative Europe and Erasmus funding programmes. Her work includes the implementation of the Gothenburg Summit conclusions on education and culture, part of the European Union’s new Social Pillar