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Faces of Europe: the women's revolt. A procedure from another age

Tonight, the 27 will have a dinner to determine who will be the next faces of Europe. A final haggling will be necessary to enable the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Several candidates have, in fact, expressed their interest in the post of permanent president of the European summits. There is even a plethora: former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Luxembourg Prime Minister J.-C. Juncker, Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, his Dutch counterpart Balkenende, and the Estonian President Tomas Hendrik Ilves, etc. But, except surprise, only one woman is in the ranks: the former Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga. As for the post of European diplomacy, the Briton Miliband is competing for the post with the Italian D'Alema. The future European Commission could have only 7 or 8 women out of 27. Too few!

A very masculine game that women of all persuasions intend to disturb

The women came to disturb this game. Yesterday, several deputies came symbolically in suits and ties to submit their CVs to the Council of Ministers. They claim parity. Several commissioners - the Swedish Margot Wallström, the Dutch Neelie Kroes - have started to sound the alarm. MEPs from all political groups have warned. If there are not more women, it's simple, there will be no new Commission warned Greens co-chair Rebecca Harms. " We have reached a level where women in Parliament say enough is enough. We want women to be sufficiently taken into account in the European Commission, for the choice of the President of the Council and for the choice of the successor to Javier Solana. We are very serious. Mr Barroso must take this call seriously and intervene with Member States. " Without change, " we will abstain or vote against warns Danish Socialist Britta Thomsen. " Europe must lead by example. There are competent women in all political parties: Vaira Vike-Freiberga or Ursula Plasnik for example. With a little will, and awareness of their moral duty, they can propose a wife. » « We will vote against confirms his Liberal colleague Diana Wallis.

A choice from another age

It is true that beyond personal issues, the appointment process seems from another age. Opaque, confused, and undemocratic. Everything happens behind the scenes and on the sly. And finally no one knows why such a country proposes such a commissioner. In some countries, it is a decision of a single person, the head of state or government, as in France. In others, it is a government decision, more or less collegially. Sometimes it is a “government” post. But the stated ambition of greater democracy is flouted. We will certainly have to move towards a more democratic game. could not be more anti-democratic. There is no application circuit, no preliminary audition. As explained by Sylvie Goulard, MEP (Modem) " We come from a system where diplomacy reigned supreme – there was no official candidate – and we are trying to bring democracy into it. It is not easy. The rulers resist. But evolution is necessary. It's a question of legitimacy. A Europe with few women at its head and no representatives of minorities will not be credible.”

Nicolas GROS-VERHEYDE
Long version of an article published in Ouest-France, September 2009

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).