Open Europe Blog

Jean-Claude Juncker and his people have rightly expressed concern over the lack of female European Commission candidates put forward by member states. It’s raining men in Brussels as we put it recently.

Never slow to jump on a bandwagon, certain MEPs are now digging in as well, threatening a veto (remember the European Parliament has to approve the new Commission) should Juncker’s Commission not include enough women.

The European Parliament’s President Martin Schulz – the guy, remember, who lost to Juncker – said

“The European Parliament is very concerned that at present virtually all the potential candidates whose names are circulating are men. The European Parliament will not accept a gentlemen’s club.” 

The head of the liberal ALDE group, Guy Verhofstadt – a man known for his strong views – added

“As liberals, we cannot support a commission with too few women.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Socialists in the EP, an Italian gentleman named Gianni Pittella, said

“We will not support a European Commission with fewer women than today.” 

Fine, these three men have a point. But let’s throw back the question: how gender-balanced is the European Parliament itself? Well, a rather mixed bag it turns out – with some depressing stats in particular:

      • 20% of members in the Conference of Presidents – EP group leaders plus the EP President, i.e. the top dogs – are female 
      • 22% of the leaders of the EP’s political groups are female 
      • 37% of MEPs are female 
      • 45% of the EP’s committee chairs are female (encouragingly up from 36% in the last Parliament) 

      So whilst not exactly Whites or the East India Club – hardly a great beacon of gender balance either. As that old saying goes, start with the man (errr) in the mirror.

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