Only 4 women out of 31 in reshuffle of high positions in the European Commission

In a disappointing outcome, in what was apparently something of a surprise reshuffle of senior management positions of the European Commission, out of thirty-one such senior posts now only four are held by women. This number will furthermore fall to three when in July 2009, Claire Durand, head of the legal service will retire.

This reshuffle which is called a ”mobility package” deals with the mobility of senior managers at Director-General or equivalent level who have reached, or will soon reach, five years or more in their present job. The Commission reaffirms the principle that all senior staff serve between two and five years in a single function, with a maximum of seven years. On this occasion however, it would appear that this shake-up, initiated by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, came as a surprise to most Commissioners and Vice-President Margot Wallstrom and Trade Commissioner Cathy Ashton are said to be particularly annoyed by both the move and the way in which it was announced at one of the weekly meetings of commissioners.

The decision has also reached the ears of the European Parliament where Socialist MEP Mary Honeyball has been particularly vociferous in her disapproval of the move saying:

Yesterday’s reshuffle was a perfect opportunity to put deserving women into the top director general posts in the commission to fix the disgraceful situation of women making up just 13 per cent of these posts. A mere four out of 31. But this was not done, and today the women remain out numbered by men in these official positions by almost eight to one. Maybe this is why Barroso felt he had to keep this move so quiet. If he had done it in the open he would have been far less able to push such a dreadful gender bias through.”

For more information on the reshuffle, please click here
Or consult The Parliament magazine here

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