Stefan Fule[Getty Images]
Czech diplomat Stefan Fule stepped into office as EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy on February 10th 2010, a day after the European Parliament (EP) approved the new team of European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso.
He succeeded Olli Rehn as the EU's chief of expansion, while the neighbourhood policy component of his portfolio was previously part of the EC's foreign policy dossier. He carries out his duties in close co-operation with EC Vice-President and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.
Fule was born on May 24th 1962 in the Czech Republic's western coal-mining town of Sokolov. Following his graduation from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague in 1981, he continued his education at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, completing his five-year studies in 1986.
Meanwhile, he joined the Communist party of the former Czechoslovakia in 1982. He left it following the fall of communism in the country in 1989.
Fule began his professional career in 1987, when he was appointed desk officer at the Czechoslovakian Foreign Ministry's UN department. During his three-year service at that post, he attended a UN disarmament study programme in 1988.
In 1990, Fule was posted to New York as the first secretary at Czechoslovakia's permanent delegation to the UN. Following his country's peaceful split on January 1st 1993, he retained his post as a member of the Czech delegation.
After his return home in 1995, he headed the Czech Foreign Ministry's UN department until 1996 and then its security policy department until 1998.
Fule also worked as his country's ambassador to Lithuania (1998-2001), the UK (2003-2005) and NATO (2005-2009).
Fule joined Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer's government in May 2009, when he took office as European affairs minister.
He was still serving in that post in November the same year when he was nominated for the Czech seat in Barroso's second cabinet.
During his hearing at the EP on January 12th 2010, Fule said that he was planning to address the problem of enlargement fatigue within the EU by encouraging politicians from the 27 member states to explain the benefits of that process to people in their countries. He also made clear that he would push countries hoping to join the EU to honour their commitments to be admitted into the Union.
Fule is fluent in English and Russian, and has basic knowledge of French and German.
He is married and has three children.