Saturday

22nd Jan 2022

Petition for women to take top EU posts

A citizen's petition has been launched to lobby for a woman to win one of the top four EU posts up for grabs next year, with such jobs normally going to a clutch of men following much closed-door bartering - between other men.

Dubbed 'Females in Front', the online petition set up by Danish socialist MEP Christel Schaldemose has set its sights on gaining 1 million signatures to use as a political pressure tool to ensure more gender balance in the jobs.

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

  • The December EU summit - predominantly a gathering of males (Photo: Council of the EU)

"With 1 million signatures, we can ask the commission to take action to secure that the Union fulfils the treaty's goal of gender equality, starting with the upcoming nominations," reads the petition, referring to the forthcoming EU Lisbon Treaty, which also contains the new petitions article and creates two of the top jobs.

"I don't think that women are necessarily better for the job. But they are just as qualified as their male counterparts. With one or more women in top positions, the EU would become far more representative of its citizens," says Ms Schaldemose.

The coming months are set to see some spectacular negotiating as member states decide who should fill the posts of EU president, foreign minister, commission president and parliament president.

Past form is not that encouraging. There have been no women commission presidents in the institution's 50-year history - although this commission claims the highest number of females, with nine of the 27 commissioners being women. Just two of parliament's presidents have been women.

The bias is also apparent at national level. Of the 27 member states, just one has a woman prime minister – Germany - while 75 percent of senior ministers in the European Union are men and 25 percent women.

Only Finland has a majority of women cabinet ministers, while Spain has the same number of men and women in government.

So far, the names mentioned in various quarters for the EU jobs are only those of men – including Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, British former Prime Minister Tony Blair; Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt and Jose Manuel Barroso, current commission President.

Although speculation in Brussels about who jobs will go to has been rife for the past half year, negotiations are only expected really start after July, once France takes over the EU helm. The names are expected to be in the bag by the end of the year.

The possibility that the EU jobs may all go to men has not escaped everyone. Sweden's EU commission Margot Wallstrom pithily remarked earlier this year that she was fed up with the "reign of old men" in Brussels.

"Just look at the 'family photos' at the EU summits. It's almost all only men that are lined up. Gee, humanity consists of 50 percent women!"

But the issue does not figure top of everyone's list. Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski only yesterday (3 June) said there would be five criteria for choosing the personalities for the posts – including to which political family the person belongs and whether they come from a large or small member states.

Gender was not on the list.

Mayor breaks language divide in mixed Romanian city

The Romanian city of Sfântu Gheoghe plans to bridge the language gap between Hungarian and Romanian speakers by pioneering a programme to incentivise learning each other's languages.

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

EU rolls out vaccine, as UK-variant spreads

Most EU member states began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 on Sunday, as a more contagious variant from the UK begins to spread on the continent.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Latest News

  1. Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules
  2. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  3. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  4. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  5. Macron promises strong EU borders
  6. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  7. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  8. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us