Hannes Richter

Austria's New EU Commissioner

Hannes Richter
Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner

The future President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has selected Austrian Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, to be in charge of the European Commission’s External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy. His decision came shortly after the Austrian National Assembly had confirmed Ferrero-Waldner’s nomination on August 11th by the Austrian government. Her nomination had been supported by the governing parties, the ÖVP and the FPÖ.

Ferrero-Waldner is planning to continue her duties as Foreign Minister until November. Chancellor Schüssel has praised her qualifications for EU Commissioner: "There is no one among the candidates who possesses such a wide range of political contacts as Benita Ferrro-Waldner. She has exceptional knowledge of the diverse and unique problems of all member states."

Chancellor Schüssel stressed her experience as Foreign Minister. She has attended more than 70 meetings with foreign ministers, 34 European Council meetings, and 30 meetings with non-EU member states. ÖVP Party Chairman, Wilhelm Molterer, also supported Chancellor Schüssel in his praise: "I am convinced that Benita Ferrero-Waldner will make a significant contribution to the EU Commission." As one of her most important tasks, Ferrero-Waldner sees the necessity to inform the EU constituency of the work of the EU. In her opinion, the work of the new commission can only be successful if the EU citizens are well informed. One cannot concentrate solely on abstract knowledge but must be aware of the emotional factor as well, so that "Europe not only speaks with one voice but with a common soul."