Brussels, September 10 (MTI) – Tibor Navracsics, Hungary’s foreign minister, has been selected to serve as EU commissioner for education, culture, youth and citizenship, it was announced on the commission’s website today.
Hungary nominated Navracsics to serve as commissioner in the new European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker in July.
Navracsics, who was appointed as foreign minister of the new Orban government in June, said on Wednesday he found the role picked for him “well-suited”. He said although he had expected a portfolio close to his current ministerial charge — foreign affairs or international relations — this area is close to him, too, given his experience as a university professor and earlier role as justice minister. He said for instance he had launched measures promoting a child-friendly justice system and set up a Hungarian public administration scholarship.
Navracsics announced his candidacy online for one of the European posts on July 30, saying “Difficult job. Great honour.”
As a new commissioner Navracsics can draw on the work of the commission’s culture and education directorate as well as the employment, social affairs and social cohesion directorates and the statistical office Eurostat, the commission’s statement said.
He will also be in charge of liaising with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, and the foundation helping to improve work and living standards and the European Foundation for Training.
The ruling Fidesz-KDNP parties welcomed Navracsics’s nomination to the “outstanding post” and said in a statement that his activities would be crucial for the future of young people in Europe. The statement noted that tens of millions of young people in the community were unemployed, whose lives could be changed through targeted schemes.
Government spokesperson Eva Kurucz called the nomination a great success, and added that issues around youth, education and culture were of strategic importance. The spokeswoman called high youth unemployment and low efficiency of education issues among Europe’s gravest problems.
The opposition E-PM alliance said that the post going to Navracsics means that “he is not being taken seriously”.
In a statement, E-PM’s MEP Benedek Javor insisted that all areas Navracsics would be responsible for were national competencies. He added that he would not vote on the candidate.
The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) said that Navracsics would be given “the least important” position in the European Commission. DK spokesman Zsolt Greczy referred to him as “a bad nominee by a bad government” who would be “the weakest link” with a “practically empty portfolio”.
Navracsics “has been working against Europe and has now been given an assignment which has nothing to do with Europe,” Greczy added.
According to radical nationalist Jobbik, Navracsics’s nomination clearly indicates the “weight” of Hungarian diplomacy. Jobbik lawmaker Marton Gyongyosi, deputy head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, insisted that the post was “not too heavy” and of a technical nature, concerning areas outside the EU’s direct control.
Andras Schiffer, co-leader of the green LMP party, however, said that the post was “much more important strategically” than other posts Navracsics was earlier suggested to receive.
Jozsef Tobias, head of the opposition Socialist Party, said that Navracsics’s nomination was a “slap in the face for Prime Minister Viktor Orban which the whole country can feel”. He insisted that the prime minister had abandoned European values and “preferred war to partnership”.
The new commissioners must also be approved by European Parliament.
Photo: MTI – Szilard Koszticsak