Head of EU Commission Struggles to Fulfill Women Quota
Monday, July 26, 2004 5:00 PM

If Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands confirm women as their candidates for the European Commission, the new head of the commission could have the quota of women that he has called for.

Last week José Manuel Durão Barroso said in the European Parliament "I want my team to include eight women".

So far, five women are very likely to be sent to Brussels.

These are Poland's Danuta Hübner, Latvia's Sandra Kalniete (although this could change for domestic reasons), Lithuania's Dalia Grybauskaite, Luxembourg's Viviane Reding and Margot Wallström from Sweden.

Following a statement by Mr Barroso last week that he needs the governments of the member states to help get gender balance, Dutch press reports that The Hague may send a women - former Transport Minister Neelie Kroes.

Just a third
Denmark may also send a woman - fisheries minister Mariann Fischer Boel, while Austria is considering foreign minister Benita Ferrero Waldner or health minister Maria Rauch-Kallat.

But in all three countries, these women face competition from a male candidate.

If eight women do get portfolios - it will still just be a third of the 24 posts available.

Meanwhile, for the rest of the countries the big fights over the portfolios has started in earnest.

The UK has nominated Blair ally Peter Mandelson, while Germany and France are keeping Günter Verheugen and Jacques Barrot in Brussels.

All three countries covet the biggest portfolios in the Brussels executive - internal market and competition.

Spain's Joaquin Almunia will stay in Brussels but Italy will be sending its Europe minister Rocco Buttiglione.

The new commission is set to be full of current or former ministers with Belgium sending it foreign minister (Louis Michel), Ireland sending its finance minister (Charlie McCreevy), and the Czech Republic sending its outgoing prime minister Vladimir Spidla.

Mr Barroso has said he will formally name his team towards the end of August.

The new commissioners will then be formally put through their paces by the European Parliament at the end of September with a final vote by MEPs in the last week of October.

The new commission starts its work on 1 November.

Cited from:

EU Observer, "Barroso Struggles to Fulfil Women Quota," 26 July 2004.