22nd Mar 2018

New EU commission risks delay over gender issue

  • Cecilia Malmstrom - one of the two women to be nominated for the next commission (Photo:

The incoming EU commission risks a start-up delay as male nominees for commissioner posts continue to roll in despite a plea for more women candidates.

So far only two of the official nominees are women - Sweden's Cecilia Malmstrom, currently serving as the home affairs commissioner, and Vera Jourova, the Czech Republic's regional development minister.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Italy's foreign minister Federica Mogherini is being put forward by Rome to be the next EU foreign policy chief. If she gets the post, she would automatically also become a vice-president of the commission.

Romania is also reportedly considering sending labour minister Rovana Plumb, while Bulgaria may re-send Kristalina Georgieva, although early elections mean the move is uncertain.

But most other countries, including Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and the UK have all put forward men.

While some of the names were clear even before Jean-Claude Juncker, the incoming commission president, said at least nine of the 28 commissioners should be women, others were announced long after it was apparent that the gender issue was going to become a stumbling block.

France made its nomination - Pierre Moscovici, a former finance minister - just yesterday (30 July) as did Hungary.

"If no solution is found it may be that more time is needed to form the commission," Juncker's spokesperson said Thursday (31 July) in reaction to the gender imbalance.

Juncker has the power to assign portfolios but he is not the only player in the game.

The European Parliament has also made it clear that it will reject any commission team that has too few women.

Waiting for the High Representative

Meanwhile, the dynamics of the decision timetable is adding an extra twist to the process.

Who is in charge of what portfolio will not become clear until after 30 August, when EU leaders are due to decide on the foreign policy chief, which doubles as a commission post.

Only once this person is known will all the other slots fall into place.

This makes it likely that the end-of-August summit - which Juncker will also attend - will descend into a general scuffle about dossiers.

Juncker's task - he is using the month of August to "reflect" - is not made easier by there only being a handful of really weighty portfolios in the commission. And by the fact that several of the would-be commissioners were big players on the domestic scene - three of them to date are former prime ministers.

He is likely to reshuffle some of the current portfolios reflecting the different priorities for the coming five years. One report, by the FT, suggested he will split financial services off from the internal market dossier.

Giving an idea of the intense lobbying around the job, French nominee Moscovici wrote a long blog outlining his delight at being nominated and told Reuters that he was confident he would get an important economic dossier.

Once Juncker has made his decision, the commissioners then have to run the gauntlet of EP hearings. Formally, the parliament can only reject the commission as a whole but it has managed to pick off nominees it did not approve of in the past.

Among those who may come in for a hard time is the Hungarian nominee, foreign minister Tibor Navracsics. He is a former justice minister, who oversaw controversial media and justice legislation introduced by the Orban government.

The hearings are due at the end of September, while the new commission is supposed to be sworn into office at the beginning of November.

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.

Names list for new EU commission complete

The list of proposed new EU commissioners is now complete, with enough women for the European Parliament to approve the 28-strong team led by Jean-Claude Juncker.


Selmayr case symptomatic, says EU novel author

The controversy over the new EU Commission top civil servant is revealing of what is wrong with EU institutions and how they are blocked by national governments, says award-winning Austrian novelist Robert Menasse.


The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU will be exempted from tariffs, says US minister
  2. Malmstroem: EU 'hopes' for US tariffs exemption
  3. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  4. Italy's centre-right set to share top posts with 5-star movement
  5. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  6. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  7. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  8. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  2. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  3. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  4. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  5. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  6. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  7. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  8. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections