Maroš Šefčovič (Slovak: [ˈmarɔʃ ˈʃɛftʃɔʋitʃ] (listen); born 24 July 1966) is a Slovak diplomat and politician serving as Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations since 2019, and previously from 2010 to 2014. He has been member of the European Commission since 2009. He also stood for the office in the 2019 Slovak presidential election, which he lost against Zuzana Čaputová.
He served as European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth from 2009 to 2010 and Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations and Administration from 2010 to 2014. He also served as European Commissioner for Energy from 2014 to 2019. In 2019, he was again nominated to become Vice President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight.
Early life and studies
Born in Bratislava, Šefčovič originally enrolled at the University of Economics in his hometown in 1984, but left the university after one year to pursue a degree in Russia at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, where he studied from 1985 to 1990.
In June 1987, Šefčovič became a candidate for membership in the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. After the two-year candidacy period during which he had to secure three approvals from other party members and which he embraced to "deepen his knowledge of Marxism–Leninism", he filed an application for party membership in May 1989. The party approved his application on 1 June 1989 and he became an official member.
In 2000, he obtained a PhD in international law at Comenius University in Bratislava. The subject of his dissertation thesis was Sources of the EU law and respective legislative procedures.
Šefčovič is a former Slovak diplomat, who has served in Zimbabwe, Canada, and as Slovak ambassador to Israel (1999–2002). He was also Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the European Union (2004–2009).
2009–2010: European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth
Šefčovič replaced Ján Figeľ as European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth on 1 October 2009.
2010–2014: Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Administration
Šefčovič's responsibilities included the administration of the Commission and management of some of the Commission's Internal Services; in particular consolidation of administrative reform, personnel and administration, European Schools and security. From 19 April 2014 to 25 May 2014, José Manuel Barroso was an Acting Commissioner in Šefčovič's stead while he was on electoral campaign leave for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament.
2014–2019: European Commissioner for Energy
Šefčovič was appointed Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union in 2014. In July 2015, he brokered an agreement between fifteen countries from central, eastern and southeast Europe to speed up the building of gas links, improve security of supply, reduce their reliance on Russia and develop a fully integrated energy market.
When digital single market Andrus Ansip stepped down from the European Commission to take up his seat in the European Parliament following the 2019 elections, the Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that Ansip's portfolio would be transferred to Šefčovič.
2019–present: Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight
In September 2019 newly elected President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen nominated Šefčovič as Vice President for interinstitutional relations and foresight. Since 2021, he has been co-chairing and representing the European Union in the Partnership Council established by the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
2019 Slovak presidential campaign
In the first round of the election held on 16 March, Šefčovič received 18.66% of the vote and came in second place after Zuzana Čaputová, who received 40.57% of votes. They both qualified for the second round run-off, which took place on 30 March. Šefčovič was defeated by Čaputová, receiving 41.59% of the vote versus 58.41% of votes for his opponent.
LGBT stance and other social issues
During his presidential campaign, Šefčovič repeatedly spoke against legislative changes which would improve the status of LGBT rights in Slovakia, strongly opposing both civil partnerships and same-sex adoptions. He dubbed his opponent Čaputová (who is in favour of both) as a candidate who is forcing a "new ultraliberal agenda" on Slovakia, comparing the second round of elections to a referendum on such an agenda, which he considered to be "in exact contradiction to traditional Christian values". He also stated that "we can not support any further steps towards civil unions or same-sex adoptions because these would go precisely against our traditional Christian values", calling this stance as his "very natural position" due to his Christianity. According to his opinion, discussions about "such experiments bring great unrest to society".
Šefčovič supported and welcomed the position of the Slovak parliament and government not to ratify the Istanbul Convention (aimed against violence against women and domestic violence), citing his concerns about so-called "gender ideology". Refusal to ratify the convention in his opinion confirmed that "Slovakia is built on respect to traditional values".
International relations and foreign policy
Šefčovič also criticised his opponent Čaputová for her opinions on the migrant crisis and related policies. He emphasised the importance of a speedy deportation policy, so that "people who do not have any business here are sent to their home countries as quickly as possible". Furthermore, he pointed out that "it has to be Slovaks who decide who comes to our country". Šefčovič has criticized Angela Merkel's actions in this area, labeling her "latest decisions which opened door to mass migration" as something that was not "thought-out very well".
When asked about the Venezuelan presidential crisis, Šefčovič refused to identify either Nicolás Maduro or Juan Guaidó as legitimate president, stating that "leaning on one or the other side might worsen the situation".
Šefčovič rejects the idea of EU federalization, saying he is "against creating European superstate," and considers the tax policy, autonomous migration policy, and family law issues to be "red lines" which should not be crossed by the European Union.
Šefčovič is married to Dr. Helena Šefčovičová, with whom he has 3 children: Helena, Martina, and Maroš. Šefčovič gave a TEDx talk at [email protected] in 2018.
Notes and references
- "Šefčovičova prihláška do KSČ: Ešte v máji 1989 chcel aktívne budovať socializmus". dennikn.sk (in Slovak). N Press s.r.o. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- Official C.V. on European Commission website. Retrieved 12 September 2017
- Mandate Description on European Commission website, archived on 17 November 2014
- "Six commissioners head for EU election campaign trail". EUobserver.
- "Maroš Šefčovič". European Commission. 1 September 2015.
- Maja Zuvela (10 July 2015), European states agree to boost gas links, reduce reliance on Russia Reuters.
- Carmen Paun and Lili Bayer (8 July 2019), Council rebuffs Juncker’s plan to leave commissioner seats vacant Politico Europe.
- "Šefčovič continues as vice-president of the Commission". The Slovak Spectator. 10 September 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- Mia Bartoloni (22 January 2021), Movers & Shakers The Parliament Magazine.
- "Šefčovič prijal ponuku Smeru, ohlásil kandidatúru na prezidenta". domov.sme.sk (in Slovak). Petit Press, a.s. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Šefčovič útočil na Čaputovú od prvej minúty: Jej liberálna agenda sa nezhoduje s kresťanskými hodnotami". dennikn.sk (in Slovak). N Press s.r.o. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "EU centrist faces swing to right to secure Slovak poll victory". Financial Times. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Voľby prezidenta SR 2019 – diskusia s dvoma kandidátmi". rtvs.sk (in Slovak). Radio and Television of Slovakia. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Čaputová a Šefčovič by Slovensko mafiánskym štátom nikdy nenazvali". tv.pravda.sk (in Slovak). P E R E X, a. s. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Je problém, že mladí cítia skôr národne ako európsky, vravel Šefčovič". domov.sme.sk (in Slovak). Petit Press, a.s. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Duel Čaputovej so Šefčovičom pred 2. kolom volieb". ta3.com (in Slovak). C.E.N. s.r.o. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
- "Ficov nezávislák: Šefčovič o Smerákoch aj o definícii slovenského zlodeja". plus7dni.pluska.sk (in Slovak). News and Media Holding, a.s. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Newsfilter: Čaputová zahanbila Šefčoviča v zahraničných témach". dennikn.sk (in Slovak). N Press s.r.o. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- "Čaputovú a Šefčoviča rozdeľuje zahraničná politika". etrend.sk (in Slovak). News and Media Holding a.s. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Prezidentský kandidát Maroš Šefčovič". ta3.com (in Slovak). C.E.N. s.r.o. Retrieved 25 March 2019.