Neil Kinnock has been appointed as the head of the British Council.
The former Labour party leader will take up the post later this year when he steps down as vice-president of the European Commission.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who approved the appointment, said Mr Kinnock had a "strong interest in the wider education and cultural sphere".
The British Council promotes the UK's international reputation for the arts, science and education.
A statement published on the British Council's website quoted the foreign secretary as saying: "Neil has extensive experience of international politics and leadership of large organisations, and a strong interest in the wider education and cultural sphere."
"I know that he will deliver a strong vision for the future of the British Council. He will be a great advocate for the British Council, bringing enthusiasm, integrity and a wealth of knowledge," said Mr Straw.
The foreign secretary formally approved Mr Kinnock's appointment as head of the state-funded cultural body - after he had been recommended by an independent panel.
Mr Kinnock will take up the post in November, when he leaves the European Commission. He will be replacing the outgoing head of the British Council, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws.
A statement from Mr Kinnock praised the British Council's record.
"Its reputation for independence and quality is high and its services are consequently in great demand. I greatly look forward to helping to widen and deepen the work of the British Council," said Mr Kinnock.