Wednesday

25th May 2022

Women in EU institutions get own 'caucus'

  • The Finnish ambassador to the EU (l) has mostly female staff (Photo: WIP)

The Italian ambassador to the EU, Stefano Sannino, is a busy man. These are the last weeks of the Italian chairmanship of the council of ministers, and there are several files that need to be wrapped up, particularly the poisonous budget talks for next year.

And yet on Tuesday (2 December) evening, Sannino made time for a soft-policy event at his private residence: the launch of an inter-institutional women's caucus to promote gender equality in the EU institutions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We've seen it with the formation of the EU commission that it's still difficult and that there is still work to be done on gender balance," Sannino said at the launch, in reference to the months-long horsetrading between Jean-Claude Juncker and national governments to send him more female candidates. In the end, only nine out of the 28 commissioners are female.

In practice, the caucus will pool female MEPs, EU commission officials and staff from the EU council and national embassies in Brussels, who will meet and try to promote more women inside and at the top of these institutions.

As for concrete proposals the new caucus will push for, Italian Socialist MEP Mercedes Bresso said that in her committee on constitutional affairs, there is already talk about changing the rules of how EU commissioners are appointed, so that each member state sends three candidates, male and female.

The caucus builds on an existing network of female parliamentarians from around the world - Women in Parliaments - championed by a former German MEP, Silvana Koch-Mehrin.

Mehrin said the gender gap in politics is higher compared to any other sector - 80 percent - hence the need to involve all female politicians and policy-makers at EU level.

EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva will be the lead person for the commission. On Tuesday, however, she could not be present as she was stuck in the aforementioned budget talks.

Finland's ambassador to the EU, Pilvi-Sisko Vierros-Villeneuve, who oversees about 100 staff, out of which only 36 are male, spoke about the pioneering role of her country in Europe, as it was the first to grant women voting rights and has now reached parity in the public sector among men and women.

"We used to have a female president and boys in Finland would ask their parents 'Can a man actually become president?'. We recently elected a male president, so I guess they are less worried now," she quipped.

The ambassador of Rwanda also gave the example of his country - the only one in the world where female MPs outnumber male colleagues (64%).

This goes back to the genocide when lots of men were killed, but also further back in Rwandan history, when society was a matriarchy.

EP to vote down commission with too few women

EU parliament chief Schulz has warned national governments his institution will reject the incoming college of commissioners if there are not enough women in it.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. France 'convinced' Ukraine will join EU
  2. Von der Leyen: Russia hoarding food as 'blackmail'
  3. Legal action launched against KLM over 'greenwashing'
  4. Orbán refuses to discuss Russia oil embargo at EU summit
  5. Turkey's Erdogan snubs Greek PM
  6. ECB: Crypto may pose a risk to financial stability
  7. UK PM Johnson faces renewed questions over Covid party
  8. Sweden gives 5th Covid shot to people over 65, pregnant women

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  2. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June
  3. 'No progress in years' in Libya, says UN migration body
  4. Toxic pesticide residue in EU fruit up 53% in a decade
  5. Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental
  6. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back
  7. EU aims to seize Russian assets amid legal unclarity
  8. Close ties with autocrats means security risk, Nato chief warns

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us