Commission guide: EU targeting improved gender balance by 2019

Kristalina Georgieva says she will ensure that talent is recruited, recognised and deployed effectively to support the commission's goals and objectives.

By Jon Benton

Jon Benton is Political Engagement Manager at The Parliament Magazine

10 Feb 2015

A popular veteran of the Barroso II commission, Kristalina Georgieva in is no doubt about the importance of her new role as budget and human resources commissioner in team Juncker. "The job of the entire commission is to serve the European people to the best of our ability" she says. "My role is to make sure we are using all the resources at our disposal in the best possible way to achieve that goal".

"We must turn this tight budget situation into an opportunity to focus on achieving better results with the money, getting the most out of every euro"

The European commission vice-president for budget and human resources explains the challenges facing her staff and the EU in general, saying, "in the EU institutions – as in the administrations of many of our member states – we are feeling the impact of the economic crisis on public budgets. We must turn this tight budget situation into an opportunity to focus on achieving better results with our money and in getting the most out of every euro. We also have to increase efforts to ensure spending rules are fully respected and that there is zero tolerance towards corruption and fraud".

Georgieva also focuses on the priorities of her team, underlining the role her staff will play in ensuring that this commission term meets it targets, "Of course, the commission will only be able to deliver on our promise if we have talented, motivated people working towards our priorities. I intend to make sure that talent is recruited, recognised and deployed effectively". The commissioner also says that female representation in the institutions must be improved, arguing, "We need more efficiency and mobility inside the commission, and we need more gender balance. Our target is 40 per cent women in management by 2019, up from 27.5 per cent now."

For Georgieva, the goal of the new commission structure is to, "connect up our work and our programmes to make sure that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts". She emphasises that cooperation will be vital to, "ensure the right conditions so that our staff can work together on important subjects or projects across the commission directorates, and that our funding is focused on priorities, well spent and bringing measurable results."

Georgieva is encouraged by the commission's work towards transparency so far, explaining "the way the commission has approached this has been changing for the better, and we need to accelerate that change. We can only do all of this if we are open and transparent in our daily work. The signs so far are encouraging – the Juncker commission is a team with a clear sense of purpose."

"I want a strong and respected OLAF, working for citizens while respecting their fundamental rights"

With this being Georgieva's second term as a commissioner, cooperating with the other EU institutions is familiar territory for her, and she welcomes their input, saying, "I worked closely with members of the European parliament in my first mandate as commissioner, and I appreciate the experience and conviction they bring to the table. I expect MEPs to continue to fight for what they believe in and what is best for the European people they represent.

And it is clear this will continue. In the very first days of my new mandate we had to sit down – parliament, council and commission – to negotiate the EU budget for 2015. This was a tough test for everyone and we nearly didn't make it. In the end the spirit of compromise won, and we have a sound budget for the coming year. The MEPs at the table played a constructive and vital role. We are also cooperating closely on control of the EU budget, making sure our rules are respected".

However, when asked about the 'systemic shortcomings' of the EU budget, referenced to in her mission statement from Juncker, Georgieva was less than forthcoming, responding, "as president Juncker has also stated, the occasion to look at these issues will be the mid-term review of the budget framework in 2016, and then the proposal for the next multiyear budget due closer to the end of this mandate. It's too early to go into detail now, but we will be looking at a number of issues. These range from whether the budget is focused enough on jobs and competitiveness through to how the EU budget is agreed and implemented."

Georgieva concludes by outlining her plans on how to support the European anti-fraud office (OLAF) in its investigation of the budget, saying, "I want a strong and respected OLAF, working for citizens while respecting their fundamental rights. While it is vital to respect OLAF's independence in investigations, there are important areas of policy cooperation, such as the fight against cigarette smuggling, customs operations and fraud prevention. I am of course also committed to continuing discussions with the European parliament and member states on the work of OLAF and the framework in which it operates."

Kristalina Georgieva is European commission vice-president for budget and human resources


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