Lithuania hopes for an important European commissioner portfolio after acting Economy and Innovation Minister Virginijus Sinkevicius, a candidate for European commissioner, introduced himself to the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen during a meeting on Tuesday.
“Yesterday’s meeting (…) was very successful. Sinkevicius introduced himself very well, and we are speaking about a very important commissioner portfolio,” the president told journalists on Wednesday, without disclosing the specific area of responsibility, saying that it might undermine negotiations.
Nauseda said last week he, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Ramunas Karbauskis, leader of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, had reached informal agreement on Lithuania’s candidate for European commissioner.
The head of state also said on Wednesday he had a phone conversation with von der Leyen after her meeting with Sinkevicius.
“We didn’t talk either about the gender or age or other things we probably focus too much here in Lithuania and forget the essence that Lithuania, as a country, needs to get the European commissioner portfolio it is worthy of,” Nauseda said. “If a person is competent and adequately meets the requirements for this portfolio, then the person is already a strong candidate.”
Sinkevicius says his work at the European Commission would be related to the existing area he is in charge of, but the exact portfolio will be known in early September.
“The(EC – BNS Lithuania) president has only started informal consultations and she would like to preserve her right to select proper people and later on distribute portfolios,” the minister said.
Some opposition politicians have expressed doubts over Sinkevicius’ suitability due to his age as he’s 28 year-old. Meanwhile, Sinkevicius says he has never been criticized about his work during his almost three years in the government.
“I cannot dispute the argument about my age as I cannot do that. And in terms of my work, it’s been visible over the past three years,” Sinkevicius said. “I am not a perfect candidate and will never be one. I am self-critical and know I will need to work hard and make effort as issues at the European Commission are really very complex.”
Under the law, Lithuania’s candidate is to be nominated by the government and approved by the president and the parliament.
The term of Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commission’s Lithuanian member in charge of the health and food safety, will end next fall.