18th Mar 2018

EP to vote down commission with too few women

  • Of the eight publicly named commissioner nominees so far, all are men (Photo:

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

Speaking on Tuesday (15 July) after MEPs elected Jean-Claude Juncker to be European Commission President, Schulz said that the current three to four names circulating is not enough.

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"Looking at the information currently available on the number of female candidates, the commission would not receive the backing of majority in the European Parliament," said Schulz.

"I will make that point to the (EU leaders) tomorrow", he added, referring to the EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss further top posts, such as next EU foreign policy chief.

Juncker, who has the power to decide portfolios and gender balance in the commission, indicated he wants EU leaders to propose several candidates but admitted that he did not think EU leaders would "agree" to the idea.

He recalled that in 1999 he suggested three women candidates from Luxembourg to be commissioner - the centre-right Viviane Reding got the job, and retained it for two subsequent terms.

The current nine women commissioners last week sent a letter to Juncker urging him to make sure that at least 10 of the 28 commissioners in the incoming college are women.

At the moment, Italian foreign affairs minister Federica Mogherini and Bulgarian EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva have cropped up as possible names for EU foreign affairs chief, a post that also doubles up as vice-president of the European Commission.

However, of the eight officially announced candidates - from Austria, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia Malta, Slovakia and the UK - all are men.

Other countries such as Poland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Hungary and Croatia are mulling men for the post.

While the portfolios are set to be discussed at Wednesday's summit, Juncker said he would revisit the issue at the beginning of August.

All incoming EU commissioners have to be individually vetted by the parliament, which, formally, can only vote down the commission as a whole, but which has in the past vetoed commissioner candidates it did not like.

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