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Organigram New-look EU Research Department

New-look EU research department aims to overcome bureaucratic silos. Commissioners sign off on experimental ‘matrix‘ design for DG Research that also retains international division, ending months of speculation.

EU Commissioners approved on 30 April details of an experimental new “matrix” design for their research policy department, which its chief says will force staff to work together across bureaucratic lines.

“This is really about establishing an agile, modern, cross-cutting administration, which really can elaborate policies and projects differently,” said Jean-Eric Paquet, director-general of DG Research and Innovation, known as DG RTD.

News of the shakeup first broke in January, but the details of how it would work and who would get which job weren’t confirmed publicly until today. The reorganisation, effective 1 June, entails more than a third of the department’s 1,463-member staff changing jobs internally, new reporting lines and planning systems, and new relationships with other parts of the Commission.

That sweeping a change – a first for the Commission with such a structure – will ripple in coming months through the wider world of universities, companies and ministries that deal the DG, forcing thousands to re-calculate who their key contacts are inside the bureaucracy. The DG administers the Framework Programme, currently called Horizon 2020 – with a seven-year budget of €77 billion, the third-largest funding programme in Brussels after agriculture and regional development. Many grantees and their representatives have spent years building relationships inside the DG.

The organigram released 30 April also confirms that DG RTD will retain its directorate for international cooperation, which in a draft leaked in January was slated for break-up. Instead, that group, though reorganised, will continue under Italian Director Maria-Cristina Russo. And Paquet confirmed that a new task force, under French Director Jean-David Malo, will be created to run the EU’s new small-business technology programme, the European Innovation Council.

Paquet, a French official who came to the DG last year from the Commission’s core administrative body, the Secretary-General’s office, has been working on the reorganisation for more than nine months with EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas. In an interview, Paquet said the Commission intends with this reorganisation to break down silos within RTD itself and between different DGs. “After 10 years of a relatively stable structure it’s also important to renovate a structure which also allows people and ideas to reorganise themselves a little bit differently – to open the windows, so to speak.”

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