Vytenis Andriukaitis, the Lithuanian nominee for the health and food safety portfolio in the new European Commission, says that as a commissioner he will encourage the EU's most powerful member states to invest more in health and will work on the tobacco and cross-border healthcare directives and GMO regulation.
Vytenis Andriukaitis
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

"I will support ruling member states to invest more in health. Timely and universal access to medicine is an investment in human capital and productivity," he said during a hearing at the European Parliament on Tuesday.

Andriukaitis has said that he will seek to improve the efficiency and sustainability of health systems and strengthen the supervision of the overall EU health system.

"My priorities are safety, prevention and promotion. I am not here to tell people to stop smoking or drinking. The promotion of healthy lifestyle is very important," he said.

The health and food safety commissioner-designate has said that we will continue work on the EU's tobacco and cross-border healthcare directives and discussions on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms.

Food standards will not be lowered

With the European Union holding talks on a trade deal with the United States, the bloc cannot compromise on the safety of food products, medicines or medical devices, Andriukaitis also said on Tuesday.

"Food safety standards would not be lowered. There is no way we could lower EU food standards. And not only food, but also medicines and medical devices. I see no possibility of compromising," he told members of the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in Brussels.

Food safety is a key aspect in discussions and talks with the US on a trade agreement, the nominee for the health and food safety portfolio in the new European Commission said.

EC to work out position on GMOs within six months

New European Commission will work out a joint stance on the use and regulation of GMOs in the first six months of its tenure, Andriukaitis said.

“We will have to have a common European Commission’s opinion within a period of six months [from Nov. 1],” he told the reporters on Tuesday.

Incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had told the MEPs that the Commission would soon come up with a common stance on GMO regulation and that Andriukaitis and his team would have to work out that opinion, the Lithuanian commissioner-nominee said.

Asked by BNS about his personal opinion on the use of GMOs, Andriukaitis said that he was now looking for a compromise.

“Now I’m a person willing to find a compromise,” he pointed out.

In addition to the Commission’s opinion on GMO, the key tasks will include work on the methodology and tools for the evaluation of changes in healthcare systems as well as preparations for crises and their management, Andriukaitis said.

“It includes food labelling in the light of the horse meat scandal, food trade between the EU and Russia when it gets suspended due to swine fever,” he added.

Lithuania's former health minister is being interviewed by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

The hearings of candidate commissioners, presented by incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, started on Monday and will come to an end on 7 October. The European Parliament will then vote on whether or not to approve the full Commission.

The new Commission will take office in November.

Lithuania's current EU commissioner, Algirdas Šemeta, is in charge of taxes, customs policy, audit and anti-fraud. Dalia Grybauskaitį had held the financial programming and budget portfolio in the Commission before she was elected Lithuania's president in the summer of 2009.

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