Jean-Claude Juncker received MEP Marianne Thyssen, Belgium, 58, EPP /

The new European Commission reached the critical figure of nine women when Belgium nominated Marianne Thyssen

He started with four and ended up with … nine female candidates for his Commission, which, apparently, is considered a good result. Jean-Claude Juncker, president-elect of the European Commission, has overcome the hurdle of getting member states to nominate more women as possible EU commissioners – and also managed to have his own political group be well represented in the new crew.

Shortly after 8 p.m. CEST on Thursday (04.09.2014), the social media team of president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted:

The Belgian candidate Marianne Thyssen (European People’s Party) was the last women to join the team, together with the Romanian Corina Creţu (S&D). And it took Luxembourg’s former prime minister quite a bit of effort to convince his Belgian neighbours to nominate a woman.

Juncker ended up putting together a team with nine women out of the 28 commissioners. This was the minimum and not really a spectacular goal to reach, considering Juncker has to make sure the new Commission gets the approval of the European Parliament. Social Democrats, Liberals and Greens had announced plans to vote against any team with fewer women than the outgoing Commission headed by José Manuel Barroso, which, incidentally, also had nine female members.

14 commissioners from centre-right, eight Social Democrats, five Liberals

Juncker not only negotiated well on the gender front, he also managed to assign half of the 28 posts to members of his own party, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). Among the new commissioners are also eight Social Democrats, while the Liberals got five posts.

The balance of power between the leaders of the member states represented in the European Council looks slightly different. Currently the EPP has 12 voices in the Council, compared to nine for the Social Democrats and three for the Liberals.

The EPP was able to take advantage of interim situations in the governments of several countries with Belgium, Bulgaria and Slovenia having nominated centre-right candidates for the new Commission. Only the coalition in Juncker’s country of origin, Luxembourg, abstained from nominating a candidate from within their coalition parties, leaving the post to the EPP’s frontrunner of the European elections, Juncker himself.

Liberal fears

This complaint, posted on August 25 via Twitter on behalf of the chief of the Liberals (ALDE) in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, referred not only to the probable lack of women in the new Commission, but also to the fear that the Liberals would not be represented in the new team at all.

In the end, the decline of Liberals was not as dramatic as expected. In the outgoing Commission, ALDE was represented with nine members, four more than in the new Commission. But considering the decrease in the number of Liberal heads of state in the EU – currently only three – the group now even seems to be slightly over-represented in Brussels. So it’s no wonder that no further complaints have been tweeted by the Liberal chief.

By the way: The Liberals can claim to be the party which nominated the most women. Four out of the nine female candidates are Liberals,three come from the EPP and two from the Social Democrats.

Meeting between Alenka Bratušek, Slovenian Prime Minister, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC / Meeting between Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the EC, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC / Meeting between Věra Jourová, Czech Minister for Regional Development, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC /
Meeting between Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC / Meeting between Federica Mogherini, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC / Meeting between Margrethe Vestager, former Danish Minister for Economic Affairs and the Interior, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC /
Meeting between Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Development, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC / Jean-Claude Juncker received Marianne Thyssen / Meeting between Corina Creţu, Vice-President of the EP, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the EC /
More power to vice presidents?

Almost all countries are asking for important portfolios, but those candidates with the most experience have the best chances to get what they want. There are many candidates with practical government experience, and Juncker’s team can boast four former prime ministers.

Last week it was leaked from the inner circle surrounding the president-elect that he plans to give more power to the vice presidents, who would be responsible for different fields and be allowed to replace the president when making certain decisions. But Juncker’s plan could face some institutional hurdles. According to the treaties, each commissioner has his or her own voice in the cabinet.

The list of the candidates is still to be approved by the Council. Juncker has announced that the distribution of portfolios will be published next week –  “not before Wednesday,” explained his spokesperson Mina Andreeva on Friday (05.09.2014) in Brussels. Regarding the organization of the new Commission, she said that “all the options are on the table” and that Juncker had already dealt with “63 models, which keeps on changing every day.”

  • Author: Danièle Weber

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