Lack of women no longer a problem for new Commission

Stand for gender equality in EU. [© European Union 2013 - European Parliament]

Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker is now almost certain to get support from the European Parliament because he has secured nine women on his team – the same number than in the current Barroso Commission. Three of them will be his deputies.

A leaked organigram obtained by EURACTIV and dated 2 September shows the Juncker team should meet gender balance requests coming from the European Parliament.

>> See full organigram here

The document is clearly not a final version and subject to change. Juncker is currently wrapping up a series of face-to face interviews with the 27 Commissioners-designate and is expected to announce his line up early next week.

  • Italy – Federica Mogherini – Vice President, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (S&D);
  • Poland – El?bieta Bie?kowska – Vice President, Budget & Financial Control (EPP)
  • Slovenia – Alenka Bratušek, Vice President, Digital & Innovation (ALDE)
  • Sweden – Cecilia Malmström – Justice and Anti-Fraud (ALDE)
  • Bulgaria – Kristalina Georgieva – Taxation, Fight against Fraud (EPP)
  • Denmark – Margrethe Vetager – Environment (ALDE)
  • Czech Republic- V?ra Jourová – Transport and Space – (ALDE)
  • Romania – Corina Cre?u – Humanitarian Aid (S&D)
  • Belgium – Marianne Thyssen – Skills, Youth and Multilingualism (EPP)

Thyssen is expected to be confirmed today as Belgium’s nominee, contradicting earlier rumours that the job could go to outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders. Belgium is still struggling to form a government and the commissioner post is part of a wider, complex deal.

Parliament demands met?

With nine women in his team, Juncker has secured enough gender balance to satisfy demands from the European Parliament. And he may have also defused critics coming from the liberals by giving them a Vice President position.

In Parliament, the Socialist, Green and Liberal factions warned they would vote against the new team if it had fewer than nine women.

Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, told EU heads of states at their 30 August summit meeting that the Commission might not secure a majority in his house if it lacked “appropriate gender balance”.

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal ALDE group, had said his faction “cannot support a commission with too few women”. He also added, “Let there be little doubt that such a skewed commission will not find a majority in the European Parliament and will simply be rejected”.

The Greens released a statement along the same lines. “Mogherini’s nomination does not resolve the issue of the demand for equal participation of women in the Commission. It is not enough if out of a total of six top EU jobs, only one goes to a woman.”

A new gender equality strategy?

Separately from the proportion of women in the EU executive, the Parliament is pushing for a new strategy on gender equality. The issue was discussed at the first meeting of the Parliament’s women’s rights committee on Wednesday (3 September). Experts presented a new Parliament report on the current challenges and future recommendations on the same day. 

The study looks at gender gaps in pay, pensions, and employment.

The laws in member countries are implemented uneven but the gender disparities stagnated, the report revealed. Even if the crisis reduced the gender gap, it’s not because the women’s situation improved but because men are worse off than they were before.

According to the report, the working conditions across Europe have deteriorated. The employers in an attempt to cut costs provide inferior labour conditions. Women would rather accept less quality in work than be unemployed.

However, the study shows the sectors that have strong trade unions, provide better protection for women, and have lower pay gaps.

Pension gap is the biggest inequality between men and women. Men receive more than twice pension benefits. Women tend to have shorter careers and they take time off to take care of children, which brings a negative long-term impact on their pensions. 

Gender equality is one of the European Union’s founding values. The European Commission has adopted over the years a number of legislation to close the gap: equal treatment in employment, social security, equal pay, equality in decision-making.

Member countries have also developed measures at the national level to bridge the inequality gender gap. However, the economic crisis in some countries stopped the progress or made the situation worse.

The European Commission adopted a Strategy for equality between women and men for the period 2010-2015. It publishes a progress report every year. The European Parliament published in September 2014 its report for a new strategy for gender equality post 2015. 


Subscribe to our newsletters