Incoming EU Commission Risks Being Rejected due to Gender Inequality

Written by | Friday, August 1st, 2014

The new EU commission that is currently in the process of formation risks a delayed start due to an overwhelming number of male nominees for commissioner posts despite repeated appeals from various stakeholders and the public for more women candidates. So far there have been only two female official nominees – Sweden’s Cecilia Malmstrom, currently serving as the home affairs commissioner, and Vera Jourova, the Czech Republic’s regional development minister. Meanwhile, Italy’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, has been proposed by Rome to become the next EU foreign policy chief, and automatically also a vice-president of the commission, replacing the current incumbent, Ms. Catherine Ashton. It’s been reported that Romania may decide to send labor minister, Rovana Plumb, while Bulgaria may propose its current commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva.

However, most other countries have all put forward men. While some of the names were on the table even before Jean-Claude Juncker, the incoming commission president, pledged that at least nine out of the 28 commissioners would be women, other male candidates were announced long after it became obvious that the gender issue would really become one of the important criteria during the nomination process. While Jean-Claude Juncker has the power to assign portfolios, he is not the only player in the game, the other being the European Parliament which has already stressed that any commission with too few women would not get a ‘green light’. Meanwhile, Juncker’s role is made further more complicated by the existence of only a small number of really weighty portfolios in the commission and also by the fact that some of the prospective commissioners were big players on the domestic scene, including three former prime ministers.

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