Sunday

4th Dec 2016

New EU commission risks delay over gender issue

  • Cecilia Malmstrom - one of the two women to be nominated for the next commission (Photo: cosilium.europa.eu)

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

MEP barred from questioning Oettinger on plane trip

The Hungarian Green MEP who uncovered EU Commissioner Oettinger's flight to Budapest on a private plane of a lobbyist was not allowed to ask the German politician on the issue in the EP.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security