Socialist Group leader Martin Schulz has described the Romanian commissioner’s role as 'skimpy' and suggested that he should be made commissioner for minorities instead of multilingualism.

During the presentation of the Commission’s work programme for 2007 by President José Manuel Barroso, Schulz questioned the decision to give the new Romanian Commissioner Leonard Orban the portfolio of multilinguism.

He said the portfolio was "not worthy of a commissioner" and called his role "skimpy". Instead, he proposed to Barroso that "protection of minorities would flesh out the job. You would get a lot of support in the parliament for that.” This portfolio would also comprise the protection of Roma, he said.

Romania has the largest Roma minority in Europe with roughly 1.8 million, representing 8% of the population.

The hearings of the Bulgarian and Romanian commissioner candidates in the Parliament are expected to take place on 27 and 28 November 2006 and the vote is likely to take place on 12 or 13 December 2006 (see EurActiv 31 October 2006).