Introducing Olivér Várhelyi, Hungary’s nominee for European Commissioner
In a press conference on Monday evening, Prime Minister Orbán officially nominated seasoned diplomat Olivér Várhelyi, Hungary’s ambassador to the EU, as the country’s next European Commissioner. Here are a few things you should know.
As our ambassador to the EU, Várhelyi has led the permanent representation in Brussels for the past four years but has been involved in EU affairs for more than 20 years. He played a major part in the legal harmonization process preceding Hungary's EU accession in 2004, but is perhaps best known for his major role in the development of EU patents.
Várhelyi’s first Brussels-based assignment began in 2001, when he became legal attaché then went on to serve as head of the Hungarian mission’s legal department, a post he held from 2003 to 2006. Between 2006 and 2008, Várhelyi headed the EU Law Department in the Ministry of Justice and then spent three years working for the European Commission as head of department in the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. In 2011, he was appointed Deputy Ambassador to the EU, a post he held until 2015 when he became the permanent representative.
Renowned in professional circles as an expert in EU affairs and EU law, Várhelyi has led Hungary’s permanent representation through a challenging era and, with limited resources compared to many of the other member states’ EU representation, done remarkably well. As a seasoned diplomat who knows the ins-and-outs of Brussels, he has always, as Prime Minister Orbán said, stood up for Hungary’s best interests.
Hailing from Szeged, a city in southeastern Hungary, the 47-year-old lawyer holds a master’s degree in European Legal Studies from Aalborg University in Denmark and a legal degree from the University of Szeged. When not busy navigating the Brussels institutions, Várhelyi, a father of three, enjoys cooking and spending time with his family.