Juncker failing to find gender balance for new Commission

Today saw Bulgaria nominating Kristalina Georgieva, the current EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Response, for a second time. This will be welcome news for Commission President designate Jean-Claude Juncker who has been urging national governments to appoint more women candidates.

Juncker failing to find gender balance for new Commission

Despite Mr Juncker’s determination, the odds of achieving anywhere near a gender balanced Commission are proving slimmer and slimmer by the day. With the Bulgarian nomination, the candidates so far put forward are composed of 19 men and 4 women. Federica Mogherini, the current Italian Foreign Minister, is also a leading candidate to be nominated, in a move which would still see less than 20% of Commissioners being women.

Jean-Claude Juncker has apparently made efforts to increase women’s representation in the Commission by offering more high profile portfolios (such as economic affairs or foreign affairs) to national governments in exchange for the nomination of a female candidate.

Commenting on the process, President of CESI’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Commission Kirsten Lühmann said: “Mr Juncker’s efforts are appreciated but there is clearly still a long way to go. It is disappointing that this strategy has to be employed as there are a number of experienced and ambitious women who would do well in the Commission.”

bild02In 2011, Mrs Lühmann was rapporteur on a CESI Resolution on promoting women in leading positions. Part of the focus of this resolution is on promoting women in leading positions as role models and mentors.

The final College of Commissioners will need to be approved by the European Parliament following a series of hearings during which each of the candidates is questioned in detailed on their assigned portfolio.

A source close to Juncker has told EurActiv that “Juncker does not believe a Commission with only two or three women would be credible or legitimate.” With the European Parliament hearings set to take place in September, it remains to be seen whether MEPs will view a Commission with five or six women any more credible.