He’s just been elected, still Jean-Claude Juncker and his future Commission need to face a not-so-little challenge. In the turmoil of the negotiations for getting the top offices into the forthcoming team, Member States seem to forget quite an important issue: gender equality. About 90% of the names making the rounds in Brussels are male candidates. The only exceptions can be counted on one hand, in comparison with 27 available offices: Federica Mogherini, proposed by Italy as Catherine Ashton’s successor for the High Roresentative for EU Foreign Policy; the current Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who could target an economic-related office with portfolio (on spite of some controversies, given that Denmark is not part of the euro area); the the hypothesis of Kristalina Georgieva, current Bulgarian Commissioner, is now becoming a recurring rumour about the possibility of in charge of Foreign Policy.
Yet, the need for more female Commissioners is stringent, the plausible composition of the forthcoming EU executive branch is currently ridiculously low as per number of women,in spite of any speech of stance for gender equality. Not only an inconvenience, or a source of embarrassment: the lack of an adequate female quota in the Commission can be an unsormountable obstacle for its own birth. The European Parliament has already said MEPs won’t give green light without an adequate number of women. “The Commission will not be approved by the Parliament, was the current composition to be kept: we cannot accept a Commission with only 3, 4, women,” said Schulz to a newly elected Juncker.
Brussels, we have a problem. Even the new head of the EU executive branch is well aware of this: the future Commission should be composed of “many women,” said vaguely the politician from Luxembourg, without citing any figure and postponing the debate on Commissioners to August. “I’ve considered asking Member States to present two or more candidate each,” explained Juncker, “I don’t know whether the idea could be pursued” but “I will take my inspiration form the then President, Romano Prodi, who in 1999 asked Heads of State/Government to candidate as many women as possible,” in order to make the Commission “reflect the demographics of Europe.” Juncker reminded he “had proposed three women.”
Yet, the number of women required for avoiding the ‘chauvinist Europe’ accusation is still unknown. Some days ago, the current female Commissioners sent Juncker a letter for asking ten or more female Commissioners (one more than today at least then). Still this about one third of the representatives, and the Parliament couldn’t be satisfied. The issue gathered the attention, as shown in the recent hearings with European Parliament groups, in which almost every European party asked at least a question about women quota in the future European Commission. S&D called for gender equity, 50-50%. GUE agreed with thism reminding that “there is perfect gender balance for men and women, and we think the Commission should be composed like this as well.” Greens insisted on procedure, saying that “Juncker should ask Member States to candidate a man and a women each.” On the other side, the EPP think that “the current number of female Commissioners, 9, is already a great result.”