Correspondent's Choice

This article about EU officials was published by EurActiv on 21st January 2010.

Ahead of a confirmation vote in the European Parliament on 9 February, EU commissioners are being asked by their president, José Manuel Barroso, to make their cabinets more multinational and gender-balanced, an internal note seen by EurActiv reveals.

The internal note distributed by Barroso’s services underlines that men outnumber women and many cabinets are too nationally-oriented, with an all-too-evident predominance of officials from the same country as the commissioner who selected them. Meanwhile the British, French and Portuguese are over-represented, especially among spokespersons.

Antonio Tajani (Industry; Italy), has five Italians and only three other nationals in his team. Karel De Gucht (Trade; Belgium), László Andor (Social Affairs; Hungary) John Dalli (Health; Malta) and Johannes Hahn (Regional Policy; Austria) have all picked half of their assistants from their own countries.

Barroso’s cabinet itself looks pretty unbalanced in favour of Portuguese nationals. The Portuguese number six in a team which is so far composed of 14 members. The key positions, however, are not held by Portuguese.

A Norwegian national features in the cabinet of French Commissioner Michel Barnier (Internal Market), although Norway is not an EU member state. His name is underlined with exclamation marks in the Commission’s internal document.

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  1. If I were in charge, I would return most of the money in my disposal to the national parliaments. That way there would be at least some democratic control over expenditure.

  2. I’m not surprised with those numbers. However it must be changed if we want to see a more ‘neutral’ commission with less decision in particular subjects (depending who has the lead) coloured/lead by national interests.
    For the gender bias, as a woman, I’m totally agreed to better balance. However do not take women just to be sure that the numbers are more equal, but take women if they are the best! Otherwise the criticism will be too easy: ‘positive discrimination and you see the results’… the machismo is not dead, do not give it more reason to continue its little game.

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