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Commissioner Figeľ presents his priorities

SLOVAKIA's European commissioner Ján Figeľ, nominated for education and culture, attended a hearing before the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in Brussels on September 27.

He said more investments in education, professional training, higher mobility and simpler accreditation of diplomas, skills and qualifications were the inevitable prerequisites for the creation of a true European labour market and the fulfilment of the goals of the Lisbon Strategy, the news wire TASR reported.

Figel expressed his belief that the Lisbon strategy, under which the EU should become the best-performing economy in the world by 2010, will be the main priority of the new European Commission and the EU as a whole.

"A major part of the answers to questions of better performance are placed in the areas falling under my responsibility," he said.

The three-hour hearing before MEPs, from the committees of culture and education as well as social affairs and employment, formed part of the procedure leading to the approval of the new European Commission, whose mandate begins November 1.

Presenting several specific plans, Figeľ said he intended to see the new programme of lifelong education approved as soon as possible. He considers it the answer to globalisation, new technologies and an aging Europe.

In the areas of culture, he wants to play an important role within UNESCO, initiating talks on cultural diversity and paying attention to dialogue between the cultures, especially with Muslim countries.

There should be wider discussion next year on the importance of universities, and Figeľ also wants to make Europe more attractive for foreign students and pedagogues by means of the Erasmus Mundus programme. On the issue of multilingualism, Figeľ wants to see every student taught in two languages at school, in addition to their mother tongue.

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