EWL press coverage

Barroso´s female revolution

President designate, José Manuel Barroso, sent a letter to all heads of state and government earlier this week. In polite diplomatic words Barroso gave the EU leaders a very clear hint of what he expects when they nominate candidates to the next Commission:
“To allow me to propose a properly balanced team to the Council and the European Parliament, I would therefore ask you all to see gender balance as a common goal and as a shared responsibility. I would therefore urge you to pay particular attention to the presence of women in the College…”
In other words: Send more women.

Obviously there is an element of tactics in the Barroso letter. The president designate was criticized for the lack of female commissioners when his Commission was approved five years ago and the letter states the obvious: That Barroso is not free to pick any team he would like. Appointments are done hand in hand with heads of state and government.
But the letter is not necessarily only a strategic move. As a matter of fact Barroso is right now in a key position to do more for gender equality in the EU institutions than any EU-leader before him have ever done.
Barroso can argue – and with huge credibility – that he need to get more women commissioners to get his Commission approved by a majority in The European Parliament.
The president designate can also move things forward quite substantially by offering more interesting jobs to the countries that provide female candidates – and it is understood that he is doing exactly that.
It is easy to foresee the arguments Mr Barroso will meet when discussing commission candidates with EU-leaders. Many EU leaders will argue that they really would like to come up with a female candidate but that they unfortunately do not have a qualified candidate this time round. When that argument comes up Barroso would be well advised to refer to recent business experiences in Norway.

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EUobserver Brussels and beyond by Ole Ryborg 22 Oct 2009

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