EU's Juncker reaches target for woman commissioners

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 04, 2014 12:46 PM

By Alastair Macdonald and Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Two nominations on Thursday for seats on the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, should allow its president, Jean-Claude Juncker, to appoint as many women as in the outgoing team, meeting a demand from legislators.

Juncker's office confirmed that Belgium and Romania had put forward Marianne Thyssen and Corina Cretu respectively for their countries' places on the 28-strong Commission, bringing the total of women nominated to nine, the same number as in the present team headed by outgoing president, Jose Manuel Barroso.

The European Parliament had threatened to deny confirmation to the new team if it contained significantly more than the 19 men on the present panel. That had appeared a risk after an initial, partial round of candidacies featured only five women, prompting Juncker to urge member states to change some nominees.

Officials expect Juncker to unveil the line-up of his team, including the offices they will hold, early next week. The new Commission is due to take over on Nov. 1.

Amid intensive rumor and speculation, diplomats say there is still considerable negotiation going on over who will get which post, with big countries like France, Germany and Britain pushing hard for influential economic portfolios.

In addition to Juncker himself, chosen by EU leaders in June, Italy's Federica Mogherini has already secured the foreign affairs post, agreed by leaders at a weekend summit. That leaves 26 further jobs to be filled on the Commission.

Diplomats say Juncker appears to be planning to appoint a number of vice-presidents with briefs to coordinate the work of the various commissioners, whose number has increased sharply in the past decade with rapid enlargement of the EU.

Senior politicians, including former prime ministers, as well as women, are likely to feature among the vice-presidents.

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Thyssen, 58, is a former leader of the Flemish Christian Democrat party. Cretu, 47, is a Social Democrat who, like Thyssen, sits in the European Parliament. As well as Belgium, Romania and Italy, women will hold Commission seats for Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Bulgaria, Denmark and Slovenia.

EU institutions are going through a five-yearly change in personnel following elections to the European Parliament in May.

Among other posts, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will succeed Belgium's Herman Van Rompuy as president of the European Council, which groups leaders of the member states. Martin Schulz of Germany remains speaker of the European Parliament.

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)