My letter to European leaders calling for gender balance on the EESC

Labour Party

I have long campaigned for equal representation of women and men in politics and in public life.

That is why I have written to leaders of the European institutions setting out why it is necessary that we work towards achieving gender balance on the European Economic and Social Committee.

Dear President Tusk, Dear President Bettel, Dear President Juncker,

We strongly urge you to appoint the new Members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in a Gender Balanced way that will best represent the composition of the European society. By October 2015 the EESC will be appointing its Members for a new 5-year mandate. It currently has 353 Members drawn from economic, social and various interest groups in Europe. In 2015 the membership numbers must be reduced to less than 350 in accordance with the EU treaty. The Members of the EESC will be appointed by the Council of Ministers after proposals made by the Member States. In this process the Council needs to consult with the Commission, which will make a proposal according to articles 301 and 302 of the TFEU.

The EESC is the ”House of Civil Society” and its role is to promote participatory democracy and advance the values upon which the European integration is founded. Last year in the EESC plenaries 46,000 votes were cast by men, and just 13,000 votes by women. This is not representative of civil society by any means.

The Council and the Commission, have the responsibility towards the EU Treaties and the European citizens to make the appointments of the EESC Members in a fair, gender balanced way that reflects European society itself. Because there is a no modern European Democracy without Gender Equality, we call the Council and the European Commission to reach equal representation within the EESC by appointing 50% women Members to this extremely important EU institution. This should not be taken as a quota, but as a true representation of civil society under the mandate by which they perform their duties.