[Brussels, 02 September 2011] In January 2012, the European Parliament will hold mid-term elections for the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Parliamentary Committees, as well as for a new parliamentary Bureau. The EWL has this week dispatched letters to the Heads of the Political Groups in the European Parliament urging them to ensure an equal number of women and men are nominated for these positions, with the aim of reaching parity in decision-making positions within the of the Institution.
While the situation has improved marginally since 2004, as the proportion of women in the European Parliament increased from about 30% in 2004 to 35% after the 2009 elections, there is still no parity in this Institution. Notwithstanding the importance of the general figure regarding women’s presence within the European Parliament, it is at least equally important to ensure the equal representation of women in internal decision-making positions within the EP, notably as (Vice)-Presidents and (Vice)-Chairs of committees.
The mid-term elections of the European Parliament Bureau and elections of Chairs and Vice-Chairs of committees in January 2012 offer the opportunity to improve the situation compared with 2009 and to make the EP exemplary in terms of the equal representation of women and men in power and decision-making by reaching parity in the Bureau and committee leadership.
This will also put in practice the European Parliament Resolution on Women in decision-making of 02 March 2000, endorsing the use of transitional quotas to bring more women into decision-making.
The under-representation of women in the EP decision-making bodies is a serious obstacle to the democratic legitimacy of the EU. Within the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, there is only one woman out of the seven Chairs of the Political Groups. Only eight of the 22 presidents of the European Parliament Committees are women (36.6%).
The Bureau of the European Parliament has almost reached parity, with the election of six women out of the 14 vice-presidents in 2009 and two of the five Quaestors.
The picture of power sharing within the European Parliament shows that women are still largely under-represented in some of the key internal bodies where agendas are set and financial decisions are made.
The current under-representation of women as Chairs of European Political Groups is alarming. Political Groups in the European Parliament play a major role in making decisions concerning the sharing of power within the Institution. They also have a duty to respect and promote fundamental rights. Among these are the commitments made by the European Union and its Member States at international, EU and national levels to achieve gender equality, a fundamental and founding value and an aim of the EU, as stated in Articles 2 and 3 of the Lisbon Treaty and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. As set out in the Lisbon Treaty, the Parliament has a central responsibility in guaranteeing EU citizens’ new catalogue of civil, political, economic and social rights as laid out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.