I’ve just come from the Culture and Education Committee’s hearing for Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner-Designate for Culture, Education, Multiligualism, and Youth. Mrs Vassiliou is the Commissoner-Designate from Cyprus and held the public health commission portfolio in the last Parliament.
As Co-ordinator for the Socialists and Democrats, I asked the second question, which was:
“Do you agree that the new EU 2020 strategy must include a strong social dimension and thereby contribute towards the fight against inequalities, social exclusion and poverty?
My Group, the S & D Group, calls for the Commission to put the interests of citizens at the heart of its 2020 strategy, particularly in this time of economic hardship, by opening up opportunities for a decent job through better quality education and professional training, which in turn promotes integration and social inclusion. Do you agree?”
She did agree, and her answer demonstrated an understanding of what we can do to improve people’s lives through better educational opportunities. Ms. Vassiliou did not perhaps provide a huge amount of detail in how she was planning to do this, but I was encouraged by what she said. Throughout her hearing she was enthusiastic and obviously very committed to her prospective job.
Ms. Vassiliou made a number of other interesting points, I was especially interested by her desire to encourage more women in to scientific research and more men in to teaching. She had statistics that showed that a disproportionate number of women were teachers and men scientists. Ms. Vassiliou stated that this was an issue which she would like to address.
Commissioner-Designate Vassiliou also answered questions on higher education and vocational training, lifelong learning, youth policy, multilingualism and sport, among others. She answered well on all the topics, with the possible exception of sport. Her nomination as Commissioner has been endorsed by the S & D Group and also by the Culture Committee Co-ordinators from all the political groups.
I hope that Ms. Vassiliou will live up to the promises she made in the Hearing. If she can then she will be a strong Commissioner, who I shall look forward to working with.