Juncker accused of gender bias for top EU finance post selection

Written by Martin Banks on 18 March 2019 in News
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Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been accused of defending the selection of men only for high-level EU finance posts.

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The criticism comes after Juncker sent a letter in response to the dispute over the perceived allocation of high-level financial posts exclusively to men.

In the letter, Juncker is accused of indirectly defending the selection procedures for the appointment of the three top posts at the European Central Bank, the European Banking Supervision Authority and the Single European Banking Union Board, where three men, and no women, have been shortlisted for the three top posts.

In his letter to Tajani, the Commission chief points out that 39.6 percent of middle and senior management in his institution is now female, “up from 30 percent in November 2014.”


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The number of female DGs has risen, he says, from 14 percent to 30 percent - from 5 to 12 - up to 6 March compared with November 2014.

The number of female deputy DGs is up 8 percent to 42 percent, from just 3 to 20, over the same period, says Juncker in the letter.

He goes on, “I share the view that women continue to be under represented in executive positions in banking and financial services and this is problematic. We are determined to contribute to efforts aiming to improve this situation.”

But he says that in the areas of finance and banking the role of the commission is “limited.”

“The President of the European Commission obviously thinks that women in top positions are all very well, but when it comes down to it, he lacks clear action for the promotion of women in top positions" Ska Keller MEP

He says the executive “plays no role” in appointments to the ECB and that it is limited in the case of the European Banking Authority.

However, some MEPs have condemned him, with Ska Keller, leader of the Greens/EFA group, commenting, "Jean-Claude Juncker makes it too easy for himself and withdraws to having done everything by the book.”

“The President of the European Commission obviously thinks that women in top positions are all very well, but when it comes down to it, he lacks clear action for the promotion of women in top positions."

Her German party colleague, Sven Giegold, economic and financial affairs spokesperson for the Greens/EFA group, said, "President Juncker's reply is a big disappointment. If we continue with Juncker’s ‘laissez-faire’ attitude we will have to wait a long while before gender equality in top positions is achieved.”

“We demand binding commitments for concrete measures for ensuring more women in top positions. The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats should take a clear stand and stop favouring men for top positions,” Giegold added.

In his letter to Juncker, Tajani speaks of the “lack of respect for the principle of gender balance” in appointments to EU financial bodies.

He says, “I would like to reiterate Parliament’s long-standing position and expectation that gender balance may be respected.”

“This is not just a failure but also a breach of the principle of gender balance, particularly with regard to high-level appointments in economic, financial and monetary affairs” European Women Alliance

Tajani adds, “I trust that all EU institutions are fully committee to take into due consideration the principle of gender balance.”

Further comment came from the European Women Alliance (EWA) whose spokesman said, “Shortlists composed only by male candidates show the failure of the Member States, the Council and the Commission in promoting gender diversity in EU institutions and bodies.”

“This is not just a failure but also a breach of the principle of gender balance, particularly with regard to high-level appointments in economic, financial and monetary affairs.”

The EWA has now called on the European Parliament “to commit itself not to take into account lists of candidates for selection procedures where, alongside the requirements concerning qualifications and experience, the gender balance principle has not been respected.”

The EWA wants “all MEPs to give a strong signal in favour of gender equality by asking the Commission, council and Member States to draw-up gender-balanced shortlists for all key nomination procedures.”

It has also urged the EU institutions to designate at least three candidates of both genders “who could be considered in the appointment and renewal of key posts in order to ensure gender balance in all EU institutions, agencies, and bodies.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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