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Tuesday 16 September 2014

THE EU has model equality policies on race, gender and sexual orientation. And it also has a huge majority of middle-aged white men in grey suits in most of the top jobs.

Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30

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THE EU has model equality policies on race, gender and sexual orientation. And it also has a huge majority of middle-aged white men in grey suits in most of the top jobs.

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In fairness, they have been trying to become "do-as-I-do" men on equality for some time now and each EU Commission president has tried to use a bit of carrot and stick to get more women commissioners.

In 2009 Taoiseach Brian Cowen got a message from Brussels as he contemplated who should be Ireland's Commissioner. The EU message was: send a woman get a better commission portfolio.

So, Mr Cowen sent Maire Geoghegan Quinn who got a job in charge of research and she did well. Nothing had changed in 2014 when Enda Kenny chose who would get the biggest political plum in a Taoiseach's gift.

But he chose Phil Hogan for services rendered and because he was a credible candidate capable of doing a good job in Brussels.

Now the incoming EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, badly needs more women commissioners to become a "do-as-I-do man" on gender equality.

Ideally, he wants to better the nine women commissioners in the outgoing Brussels executive - but so far he only has four. In various forms the message back Dublin on this one is three-fold: Hogan is our man; we sent a woman last time but other countries have not done so in years; and it's up to those who have yet to nominate to provide more women.

We will know more next Saturday when EU leaders gather in Brussels to fill two top jobs: the commissioner in charge of foreign policy and the person who will chair all EU summits for the next five years. Mr Kenny will hope that these posts go to women - as they may well do.

That would take a lot of pressure off everyone - including Ireland. But whatever happens Kenny's message is simple: Hogan is the EU man.

Word in both Brussels and Dublin is that Phil Hogan is still a contender for agriculture. He is up against the current Romanian commissioner and Spain's nominee. So, despite these clarion calls for more women, his competition remains between two other men.

Irish Independent

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