The Parliament Magazine's week that was - Women's day edition

PMHQ's take on what really mattered this week in Brussels and beyond.


06 Mar 2015

International women's day


                                                                                                                              Source: European parliamentary research service

Sunday 8 March is international women's day. This week we learnt that of the United States' leading companies, 5.3 per cent of chief executives are named John, 4.5 per cent are called David and the total number of female chief executives stands at just 4.1 per cent.

Equality between men and women is one of the founding values of the EU, as envisaged by the treaty of Rome, so to mark the occasion we take a look at the state of play in the EU when it comes to breaking the glass ceiling.

Figures provided by the commission show just how slow progress across the EU is in addressing the composition of women on boards with an executive board membership average of just 8.9 per cent. There is an enormous disparity across member states, ranging from three per cent in Malta to 27 per cent in Finland.

In the European parliament, the number of female representatives has steadily grown since the first elections in 1979 but still only stands at 36.9 per cent. This contrasts favourably with an average of just 28 per cent at national level. GUE/NGL is the only one of parliament's grouping with a majority of female MEPs (51.9 per cent), while the ECR group lags behind at just 22.5 per cent.

The commission also struggles to achieve anything close to parity. Despite much rhetoric and many promises of addressing the issue at commissioner level, only 9 member states could find a woman to send to Europe to fill a seat at the top table.

Throughout his presidency campaign Jean-Claude Juncker repeatedly said that he would put in place a commission made up of at least 40 per cent women.

During his parliamentary hearings, he repeated the pledge to "fight for a strong representation of women in the commission", a fight that was well and truly lost when the exact same number of women were appointed as in the Barroso II commission, which itself represented a fall.

The commission's DG justice has compiled a database covering the breakdown of women and men in decision-making across a number of domains.


European Wrestling Federation

It would seem Jean-Claude has not always been the big cuddly teddy bear we all know and love. This week, his dark and twisted past was revealed when the above photo of him and Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos started making the rounds. It was taken back in March 2012 at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, who were discussing Spain's money problems. Back then, Jean-Claude was prime minister of Luxembourg. 

Sources have told PMHQ that the two men were practising for the weekly eurogroup fight club get-together. You definitely didn't hear it from us though - the first rule of eurogroup fight club is you don't talk about eurogroup fight club (or a potential Grexit).


Endearing campaign of the week

Socks battle for Down's syndrome. All week, MEPs have been nominating each other to post photos of themselves wearing mismatched socks to raise awareness for world Down's syndrome day on 21 March. Comfy and charitable!

PMHQ's fashion consultants have spent hours perusing the internet to bring you their selection of the hottest sock styles, for your viewing pleasure.













'Reality' check of the week

Commission vice-president for budget and human resources Kristalina Georgieva taking time out of her busy schedule to answer Marc Tarabella's vitally important enquiry. Tarabella was concerned about newly constructed commission buildings containing an "area dedicated to all EU member states with the exception of Slovenia", asking, "How can the commission justify this decision?"

Tarabella, however, may need to check his sources as it appeared he was referring to an article in the satirical periodical Georgieva insisted that the commission was letting Slovenia join in with all EU-related fun, adding that Tarabella's enquiry was based on information that "bears no relation to reality".

Is there still 'no such thing as a stupid question' when they each come at a cost to the public of €1600 ? Maybe one of our European deputies could put that quasi-philosophical line of enquiry to the EU executive.


Free (base) market economy

To anyone who has looked at the economic policies of some of our largest and proudest nations and asked the eternal question, "Are these people on crack, or something?", there is troubling (or reassuring depending on your viewpoint) news from the UK.

One of British finance minister George Osborne's chief economic advisers has reportedly been videoed partying at the "Hard Rock" café, if you catch our drift. Thrill-loving bon vivant Douglas McWilliams allegedly smoked himself a bowl of sweet, sweet candy using a converted cognac bottle. We've heard of laissez-faire economics, but this takes the biscuit.


Geekfest of the week

#EUpickuplines. Here is PMHQ's top five:











Read the most recent articles written by PMHQ - The Parliament Magazine's week that was - pre-Easter edition