Juncker’s Commission looking politically conservative, gender imbalanced

Jean-Claude Juncker [EBS]

With one week left before deadline and only four Commissioner nominees waiting to be revealed for the next term, Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission looks to become ever more politically one-sided and gender unbalanced.

Twenty-four countries have so far put names forward, while still four countries have missed the deadline of 1 August: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark and the Netherlands. The nominees show a clear pattern of mostly being men from right-wing parties.

As 14 of the nominees are centre-right politicians, the European People’s Party (EPP) group looks to gain the the majority of Commissioner posts, making the next Commission less politically diverse than the former, where the EPP had 13 posts, the socialists had seven posts, and the liberals were over-represented, with eight posts. Currently the socialists have six posts and the liberals only three. 

Meanwhile, the Commission’s president-elect, Jean-Claude Juncker, has stated that he would like to see more women in the EU’s executive, promising heavy portfolios and vice-president posts for member states who put women forward. At the moment, nine commissioners (or 33%) are women, but Juncker won’t be able to match or surpass this number.

So far, 19 men and only four women have been nominated by member states with only four nominees left to be named. Slovenia is the only country which has given Juncker a list of names to choose from, including two women. However, it’s expected that at least Denmark will nominate a woman.

While Danish media for months have reported that Christine Antorini, the current Minister for Education, is a solid guess, other media have reported that Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard is likely to be nominated.

Hedegaard, together with Sweden’s Cecila Malmström, Austria’s Johannes Hahn, Germany’s Günther Oettinger, Croatia’s Neven Mimica, Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva, Romania’s Dacian Ciolo? and Slovakia’s Maroš Šef?ovi? would then be the returning commissioners for a second term.

But other experts say Hedegaard’s nomination would be unlikely, as the Danish centre-left government wouldn’t possibly nominate a candidate from the EPP, though this has been the exact situation in for example Austria.

On Thursday (21 August), the French business daily Les Echo reported that it’s getting increasingly likely that Eastern Europe will claim an EU top job for the first time, with the favorite being Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva becoming the next foreign secretary after Catherine Ashton. However, this scenario would only be possible with backing from Poland, who wants to appoint foreign minister Rados?aw Sikorski to the same job.

Les Echos further said that a top job for Georgieva (representing the EPP) would make Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thoning-Schmidt (a Socialist) a favorite for the job as Council President, replacing Belgian Herman Van Rompuy.

With two women taking on the top jobs, Juncker’s Commission would also be more acceptable and easier to approve for the gender-balance conscious European Parliament.

The President of the Commission is elected by the Parliament by a majority of its members, on a proposal of the European Council acting by qualified majority. The choice of the candidate for the Presidency of the Commission should take account of the results of the elections in the European Parliament.

In consultation with the President-elect, the Council then adopts the list of the other members of the Commission. These people are chosen on the basis of suggestions made by the Governments. The Commission is subject, as a body, to a vote of approval of the European Parliament. The College of Commissioners is then formally appointed by the European Council acting by qualified majority.

>> Read our LinksDossier EU Top Jobs: Who is next? and topic page EU Top Jobs

  • Aug.-Sept.: New president distributes portfolios within his team of 27 commissioners
  • 30 Aug.: EU leaders gather for a European Council summit to discuss top jobs
  • October: European Parliament votes to approve or reject new Commission College as a whole
  • 1 Nov.: Target date for the new Commission to take office

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