Director DG for Health and Consumers, European Commission
Despina Spanou is Principal Advisor to the Director-General for Health and Consumers since 1 April 2010. She works on policy and communication coordination and also co-chairs certain stakeholder fora, including the Platform for action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical activity as well as the Alcohol and Health Forum. She also represents the Directorate General for Health and Consumers at the High Level Forum on competitiveness in the food chain. She was previously the Deputy Head of Cabinet for the European Commissioners for Health Mr. Kyprianou (2004-2008) and Mrs. Vassiliou (2008-2010).
Despina Spanou started her career at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition after having practised European competition law for a number of years with the Brussels branch of a US law firm. She is a qualified lawyer and holds a Ph.D in European law from the University of Cambridge.
In 2004, she joined the Cabinet of Markos Kyprianou as Member and was nominated as Deputy Head of Cabinet in 2007. She maintained this position under Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou when she took over the portfolio of Health in 2008 through the beginning of the Barroso II Commission mandate. During her time at the Cabinet, she acquired significant experience through the handling of a wide range of DG SANCO policy issues, focusing in particular on the food chain, including, the handling of the avian flu crisis in 2006, EU trade relations with Russia, infringements of EU law in the area of health, biotechnology, as well as public health policy files including the first European Partnership on Action against Cancer and relations with third countries on health issues.