Leonard Orban, Romania’s designated EU commissioner, told members of the European Parliament on Monday that he would support more intensive language training in schools and would supplement moves to protect the languages of minorites in member states.

Orban and Bulgaria’s designated commissioner Meglena Kuneva both faced MEPs in preliminary hearings before they’re confirmed in office by the European Parliament and just over a month before Romania and Bulgaria join the EU on January 1, 2007.

While he apparently made a good impression on his listeners, Orban still has to learn of their evaluation about his statements on Tuesday. A final vote on his nomination is expected in the plenary EP session on December 11-14.

Orban has been designated to take the new seat of a Multilingualism Commissioner, which has raised many eyebrows among EU officials who wondered why such a post was needed.

He spoke French, English and Romanian during the hearings, arguing that knowing more languages improves competitiveness on the EU market.

The hearings have lasted for three hours as Orban first held a speech presenting his priorities and then answered the questions of MEPs.