Margrethe Vestager, who is seen as a possible successor to the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, revealed plans to nominate both a male and female candidate for jobs in the EC to address its gender imbalance. Currently nine women make up the 28 commissioners in Brussels. Competition commissioner Ms Vestager said in Brussels last week: “It would be good if all member states nominated both a man and a woman to be able to compose a diverse commission.”
She added: “When we appoint at home [Denmark] for advisory boards, we normally suggest both a male and a female because we want a balance.”
Ms Vestager is seen as a possible successor to Mr Juncker, the commission president whose term ends next year.
The top job would not be easy for the Dane to secure however, as she is likely to face significant hurdles in both Brussels and Copenhagen.
When Mr Juncker became commission president in 2014, he used the spitzenkandidaten process that nominates the chosen candidate from the most popular political group in the European Parliament.
But Ms Vestager is unlikely to win under this mechanism as she belongs to ALDE, one of the smaller parliamentary groups.
Ms Vestager said she does not like the “underlying automation” of the spitzenkandidaten process.
She said last week: “I think it makes sense for people to put forward some candidates that they find could do the job.
“Only thereafter should the Council and the Parliament take a position.”
She has been coy about the president position but is known to want another term as competition commissioner.
But this appointment would not be automatic, as she would require a nomination from Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
Mr Rasmussen has half-jokingly said the only way he would support her candidature is if her Social Liberal party backed his government in national elections due in the spring.
The prime minister’s party has recently seen a 2.2 decline in support for his Liberal Party, according to a poll conducted by Voxmeter on behalf of Ritzau, the Danish news agency.
Polls also indicate an almost 50-50 split between the left and right, making the vote too close to call.
A Danish official said he thought the chances of Ms Vestager being nominated again to the commission “almost zero”.
Mr Rasmussen is also rumoured to be a plan b to replace Donald Tusk as president of the European Council if the favourite, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, does not get the job.
Ms Vestager’s suggestion of two commission nominees per member state would not only help improve diversity, but also open a second nomination spot for her alongside Mr Rasmussen or another Dane.
Research has found diversity improves decision making and establishes role models for future generations.
The study, published in Forbes in September 2017, found gender diverse teams make better decisions 73 per cent of the time.