Wednesday

29th Jun 2022

Margot Wallstrom fed up with EU 'reign of old men'

  • "Old men choose old men, as always," says commissioner Wallstrom (Photo: European Commission)

EU communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom has said she is fed up with the "reign of old men" in Brussels corridors, saying public opinion in Europe will not take lightly to the backroom scheming between EU hot-shots.

"An inner circle of male decision-makers agree behind closed doors on whom to nominate to EU top jobs," the Swedish commissioner said in an interview with Swedish daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet on Friday (8 February), the day of her 54th birthday.

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

"It is incredible that only men have been mentioned in the discussions, and that it is all discussed behind the scenes, she added.

The Lisbon Treaty, due to come into effect next year, comes with two new top posts in the union: a permanent president for the council, elected for a two and a half year period; and a 'high representative for foreign affairs', or foreign minister.

The Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, has been mooted as a possible candidate, as has Luxemburg's prime minister Jean Claude Juncker. Lately, there has been much speculation about whether UK former prime minister Tony Blair is interested in the job.

Formally, the decision should be taken by the European Council - the member states' governments - but Wallstrom says that a "nucleus" of male politicians in Europe are already holding informal discussions and they will then later put a decision before other member state leaders as a fait accompli.

"It is very bad for public opinion. The people see male politicians scheming behind closed doors, and that old men choose old men, as always," the commissioner said.

She did not hesitate, despite herself being a part of the EU top establishment, to call the EU "a reign of old men".

"Just look at the 'family photos' at the EU summits. It's almost all only men that are lined up. Gee, humanity consists of fifty per cent women!"

Only two out of 26 presidents of the parliament have been women, while all eleven presidents of the commission have been men. Today's commission, the most egalitarian of them all so far, has eight woman commissioners out of 27.

She says the reason that only men are suggested to head the EU's new foreign affairs department is not the lack of female competence. She mentions Irish president Mary Robinson, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Italian politician Emma Bonino, as sound candidates.

As for herself, Margot Wallstrom said she is not interested in any high profile political missions in the future, neither in Brussels nor in domestic politics.

"No, God forbid. Enough is enough", the commissioner said, putting an end to speculation that she could become the next Swedish foreign minister should her Social Democratic party win the next election in the Nordic state.

"I know what it takes of sacrifices to always be in the spotlight. It gets harder and harder. I really do not want this anymore".

Opinion

The euro — who's next?

Bulgaria's target date for joining the eurozone, 1 January 2024, seems elusive. The collapse of Kiril Petkov's government, likely fresh elections, with populists trying to score cheap points against the 'diktat of the eurocrats', might well delay accession.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

Green crime-fighting boss urgently required, key MEP says

The European Parliament approved last week a non-binding resolution on illegal logging, calling to extend the EU public prosecutor's mandate to also cover environmental crime. The lead MEP on the file has called for urgent implementation.

Opinion

The euro — who's next?

Bulgaria's target date for joining the eurozone, 1 January 2024, seems elusive. The collapse of Kiril Petkov's government, likely fresh elections, with populists trying to score cheap points against the 'diktat of the eurocrats', might well delay accession.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgaria expels 70 alleged Russian spies
  2. EU Commission told to improve CAP data analytics
  3. Scotland pushes for second independence vote in 2023
  4. Climate groups: G7 leaders 'backsliding' on climate
  5. Ukraine diplomat urges German MEPs to reject EU taxonomy
  6. EU asylum requests were climbing before Ukraine war
  7. Public sector journalists protest Macron tax plan
  8. EU engine ban splits Germany's coalition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. EU presidency still looking for asylum relocation pledges
  2. Finland and Sweden to join Nato, as Erdoğan drops veto
  3. The euro — who's next?
  4. One rubicon after another
  5. Green crime-fighting boss urgently required, key MEP says
  6. G7 leaders want price cap on Russian oil
  7. Western public has 'moral' duty to Ukraine, Nato chief says
  8. Kiwis are my slavery — the hellish life of a Sikh labourer in Italy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us