Nikolakopoulou will take over from Mathioudakis after he retires from a 32-year career with the Commission on 1st March. She currently holds the position of deputy head of the same unit and has worked within the Commission for nearly 12 years.
In his time with DG SANTE, known up until this year as DG SANCO, Mathioudakis secured the game-changing vote from member states to create the Article 13 list of health claims and steered the Food Information Regulation through the European Council and Parliament.
He also worked on the revision of the Foods for Particular Nutritional Uses (PARNUTs) legislation and has chaired the standing committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) since 2004. A spokesperson for the Commission called him its “most senior expert on nutritional labelling and health claims”.
Top management and the cabinet are now discussing DG SANTE priorities under this new leadership, something Nikolakopoulou declined to comment on until they had been officially decided.
Ladislav Miko has been the acting general director of DG SANTE since last autumn when former chief Paola Testori Coggi resigned following an investigation into her breach of fair practice policy. The search for her permanent replacement continues.
The DG for health and food safety has around 960 staff, the majority in Brussels while 120 and 180 work in Luxembourg and Grange near Dublin, respectively.