VILNIUS - Lithuanian Economy and Innovation Minister Virginijus Sinkevicius says his nomination as the country's next European commissioner is a sign of confidence in the post-independence generation and new politicians.
"In the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, for me this symbolizes trust in Lithuania's post-independence generation and Europe's renewal," the 28-year-old told the parliament on Tuesday.
According to the minister, his nomination sends a signal to Europe that Lithuania is "open and helps it grow".
"This country and its people have created an environment where a young person can put their ideas into practice in politics, business or NGOs," he said.
If approved, the 28-year-old politician will become the youngest-ever EU commissioner. He met with incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen several weeks ago.
Nominated by the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, Sinkevicius has already been approved by the government and President Gitanas Nauseda and is yet to be endorsed by the national parliament and the European Parliament.
The Seimas is expected to vote on his nomination on Thursday.
According to Sinkevicius, the new Commission will have the task of making the EU a model for combating climate change and addressing the challenges of the digital economy.
The candidate said he has been dealing with these challenges as Lithuania's economy and innovation minister.
"This is for the social and economic well-being of every European. I believe that being the strongest believer in the idea of ??the EU, Lithuania will not only follow this path, but will also actively contribute to the realization of the idea," Sinkevicius told the parliament.
He sees lifelong learning and getting more women into information technology and engineering among the Commission's priorities, noting that the so-called digital divide increases social exclusion, too.
"The idea of ??Europe cannot afford creating an age of digital discrimination based on age, gender or place of residence. This is not only about ethics, but also about social well-being," he said.
Sinkevicius has served as economy and innovation minister since 2017.
His career includes positions at the state-run airport operator Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports), Lietuvos Pastas (Lithuanian Post) and the government's foreign investment promotion agency Invest Lithuania.
Sinkevicius has also previously worked at the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis and has done a traineeship at the Lithuanian embassy to the United States.
The new European Commission will take office in November. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Lithuania's outgoing European commissioner, is in charge of health and food safety.