The Brief: breaking the EU glass ceiling

The Brief: breaking the EU glass ceiling
By Maria Psara, Meabh Mc Mahon
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As Belgium gets its first female prime minister, we take a look at how many EU countries have female leaders (clue you can count on one hand).


Meet Sophie Wilmes, Belgium's first ever female prime minister. The 44 year-old mother of four replaces Charles Michel who will start preparing for his new role as EU Council President. Like him, she stems from the French-speaking Liberal party MR and she now inherits the poisoned chalice of trying to help form a government among linguistically divided parties.

The new appointment means that now 4 women in the EU hold the position of head of state.

Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany.

Brigitte Bierlein is the Chancellor of Austria.

Mette Frederiksen is the Prime Minister of Denmark.

For the European Women's Lobby, more women need to be in positions of power in the EU.

"We have this real, concrete improvement but it is not good enough, because we still don't have parity. Men are still widely over-represented in politics, in the EU and it is an issue of democracy and even when women are represented they are not represented in their full diversity," Manon Deshayes, policy and campaign assistant tells our reporter.

Until recently, the first female president of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen strived to have a gender balanced Commission. Initially she announed 14 of the 27 Commissioners would be female.

But the rejection of 2 women proposed Commissioners by the European Parliament destroyed this balance -the new proposals are both men.

And also in EU news...

The European Union's first-ever foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, is becoming a lobbyist, five years after leaving office.

She recently took a job with private security firm GardaWorld, which bids for EU contracts, the EU Observer reported.

Ashton is also the head of the Global Europe program at the Wilson Center, a liberal Washington-based think tank.

New Commission update:

Incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has renewed efforts to complete her team.

On Monday she was scheduled to meet the new candidates from France and Hungary, Thierry Breton and Oliver Varhelyi.

Their respective countries' first choices were rejected by the European Parliament, which is delaying the start of the new Commission until December.

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