Thursday

2nd Apr 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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

... or join 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.

Analysis

First 100 days: Digital and Green Deal policies hit by crises

The first 100 days of Ursula von der Leyen's commission were supposed to be about the digital and environmental transitions. However, that agenda has been hit by first the coronavirus, and now the Greek border situation.

Feature

How corporate lobbyists steer EU law-making

Former EUobserver investigations editor Peter Teffer has written a new book about how lobbying in the EU works. The EU's focus on the internal market offers corporate lobbyists a perfect means to forward their interests.

Investigation

G4S: the EU's preferred security contractor

The British multinational security company G4S lost its contract with the European Parliament in 2011 in a backlash from MEPs over alleged abuses in Israel. Today, they guard the parliament's main entrance and have become the EU's top security provider.

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Court: Three countries broke EU law on migrant relocation
  2. Journalism hit hard by corona crisis
  3. EU fighting shortages and faulty medical supplies
  4. New EU navy operation to keep migrant details secret
  5. MEP: Constituents are our window into this tragedy
  6. Without European patriotism, EU decline is inevitable
  7. EU cancels April Fool's 'fake news'
  8. A coronavirus 'Marshall Plan' alone won't be nearly enough

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us