EUROPEAN UNION

Figeľ interviewed

SLOVAKIA's future European commissioner, Jan Figeľ, addressed the European Parliament in Brussels last week in a hearing designed to prepare the European Parliament's final vote of approval on the enlarged commission.
Together with other prospective European commissioners from new EU member countries, Figeľ faced an hour of questions put by a special Parliamentary commission. Questions focused on technology, research and development, small businesses, and the commission's chemicals policy.

SLOVAKIA's future European commissioner, Jan Figeľ, addressed the European Parliament in Brussels last week in a hearing designed to prepare the European Parliament's final vote of approval on the enlarged commission.

Together with other prospective European commissioners from new EU member countries, Figeľ faced an hour of questions put by a special Parliamentary commission. Questions focused on technology, research and development, small businesses, and the commission's chemicals policy.

Figeľ, born in the eastern town of Čaklov in 1960, graduated from the Technical University in Košice and worked in research and development.

"From this point of view my previous experience should be relevant for work in the areas of enterprise and information society," said Figeľ.

He will be working with Finnish commissioner Erkki Liikanen, who is responsible for enterprise and information society.

Since 1992, Figeľ has been a member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and active in Slovakia's foreign and European relations.

"For years I was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its various committees," reported Figeľ when pointing out his qualifications. "An especially active and demanding period came after September 1998 when I was chief negotiator for the accession talks with the EU. I participated in the Convention on the Future of Europe and I have gained experience as an observer in the European Parliament."

Commissioners are not representatives of their respective member states, so Figeľ will have to give up his current political functions in Slovakia before May 1. During the hearing he promised to serve the general interest of the community, not only of Slovakia.

"I shall neither seek nor take instructions from any government, including the one which proposed me for the post of commissioner. National interests find their appropriate forum in the Council of Ministers," said Figeľ.

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