Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is a fundamental right to which everyone is entitled, everywhere. It is the essential value of the EU. This right is abused and restricted in many parts of the world. In connection with mass atrocities and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities by the ISIS in the Middle East, the European Parliament requested EU to stronger support of FoRB by a new permanent position. Therefore in May 2016 the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker adopted the decision to create the function of Special Envoy for the promotion of the freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. Commission decided to appoint Ján Figeľ as the first Special Envoy.


        Given the importance of protecting and promoting FoRB in the world in the framework of EU's dialogue, sustainable development policy and assistance programs with third countries, the Special Envoy served as Special Adviser to the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica. This mandate was renewed by the EC until the end of November 2019.


Ján Figeľ

Nationality: Slovak
Birth date and place: 20 January 1960, Vranov nad Topľou, Slovakia
Marital status: Married, 4 children


Political Career

2016 – 2019
Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion outside the EU

2012 – 2016
Vice-President of the National Council of the Slovak Republic

2010 – 2012
First Deputy-Prime Minister of the Government of the Slovak Republic and Minister of Transport, Construction and Regional Development

2009 – 2016
Chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)

2004 – 2009
Member of the European Commission – Education, Training, Culture and Youth portfolio

2004 – May – November
Member of the European Commission – Enterprise and Information Society portfolio

2003 – 2004
Head of the Standing Delegation of Observers of the National Council of the Slovak Republic in the European Parliament, also Member of the Presidency of the EPP-EP fraction of the European Parliament

2002 – 2003
Representative of the Slovak National Council at the Convention on the Future of Europe

1998 – 2003
State Secretary, Chief Negotiator of the Slovak Republic for negotiations on the accession of Slovakia to the EU

1992 – 1998
Member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, also Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Vice-Chairman of the EPP fraction in the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE (1998)

Since 1990
Founding Member of the Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH)


Academic Career and Formation

Since 2018 – Visiting Fellow, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Since 2017 – Member of International Advisory Council, ICLRS, BYU University, Provo, Utah, USA
2002 – 2007 PhD at St. Elisabeth University, Bratislava
1995 – 2000 Lecturer in International Relations, Trnava University, Slovakia
1994 Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA, Semestrial course on International relations
1994 UFSIA Antwerp, Belgium, Semestrial course on European economic integration
1978 – 1983 Engineer in Power Electronics, Technical University Košice


Membership in Non-Governmental Organizations

Member of the Board of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association
Member of the International Committee for Support of Democracy in Cuba
Honorary Chairman of the Centre for European Policy
Honorary President of the Kolping Society in Slovakia
President of the Anton Tunega Foundation
Former President of the Pan-European Union in Slovakia



Ján Figeľ: In the Centre of Common Europe, MCP Žilina, 2011
Ján Figeľ: Maturation for Europe, Negotiator´s Chronicle, MCP Žilina, 2005
Ján Figeľ, Miroslav Adamiš: Slovakia on the Road to the European Union – Chapters and Contexts, 2003
Ján Figeľ, Wolfgang Roth: Slovakia on the Road to EU Membership (co-editor), 2002



Human Tolerance and Humanitarian Award (The Czecho-Slovak Society of Arts and Science, Washington DC),
Knight of the Honorary Legion (President of the French Republic),
The Interfaith Golden Medallion (International Council of Christians and Jews, Cambridge, Great Britain),
Freedom award (International Peace Centre in Sarajevo),
Doctor honoris causa, Technical University Košice
Doctor honoris causa, Dimitri Cantemir University in Bucharest
Doctor honoris causa, Trnava University, Trnava
Doctor honoris causa, St. Elisabeth University, Bratislava

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