EC President Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed Leonard Orban as Romania’s official nominee for a seat in the Brussels Commission on Monday.
According to the official announcement made on the margins of an energy conference in Lisbon, if approved by the European Parliament Orban will be in charge with the Culture, Education and Multilingualism portfolio in the European executive, with a focus on the latter.
The Multilingualism is a second tier portfolio in the EC and has been held by Slovak Jan Figel.
Seen in Romania as a good technocrat with little political abilities, considering his key role in negotiations for Romania’s accession in the EU over the past several years, Leonard Orban said he was honored his candidacy was accepted. Prior to the official announcement, he had face-to-face talks with Barroso.
Orban started his European career as early as 1993, when he became a parliamentary counselor for European and International affairs. Now 45, he served as deputy chief negotiator with the EU in 2001-2004 and then chief negotiator until April 2005.
Since December 2004, Orban has been a state secretary at the EU Integration Ministry in Bucharest coordinating the preparation of Romania for EU accession.
He is due to defend his nomination in hearings before the specialized committees of the European Parliament and then get the final stamp of approval from the European legislators.
His nomination comes following political talks over the weekend in Bucharest as the first Romanian candidate for the Brussels seat, Liberal Senator Varujan Vosganian, was forced to resign late last week.
Vosganian rose many eyebrows in Brussels and Strasbourg for his “being on the payroll” of controversial Romanian tycoon Sorin Ovidiu Vantu and for alleged - though officially dismissed - links to late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s political police.
Following the announcement yesterday, Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu tried to mask the second tier status of Orban’s future job saying that the Romanian Commissioner will have no less than three general departments of the EC in his subordination.
Multilingualism promotes the linguistic diversity and foreign language learning in the European Union.