european students’ union

ESU calls for more gender balance in the European Commission

August 4, 2014

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) supports the #tenormore campaign that was launched by European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, calling for more gender balance in the European Commission. ESU is concerned about the recent appointments of European Commissioners that have been predominantly male.

ESU would also like to express its support to the European Parliament that has demanded a more gender balanced selection of European Commissioners and claimed it may not support a portfolio that does not give both genders an equal footing.

There is no question to us that there are competent women all over Europe and in each and country that would make great Commissioners. A political will is needed to make sure that we have a European Commission that represents our citizens. This has to change,” says Elisabeth Gehrke, Chairperson of ESU.

Recently a Dutch newspaper highlighted fourty women just in the Netherlands who would also be qualified to take on the role as a European Commissioner. This sort of a message, as well as research in the area, calls very clearly into question the idea that the most qualified persons are being chosen for the job.

This is not just an issue about who represents us, but it is about electing the most qualified persons for the job and stop the systematically rewarding one specific group more than others. The EU cannot afford ‘business as usual’ in any area, least of all when it comes to the European Commission. Right now it looks even worse than ‘business as usual’ in fact,” Gehrke continues.

Education as a human right

One of ESU’s key responsibilities is to create awareness among European policy-makers about student rights and views on certain issues. The European Commission is a key institution in this respect, where ESU strives to provide feedback to its policy-making processes by representing the interest of 47 national unions of students in Europe.

We are of course hoping that the European Commissioner that will be in charge of higher education will share our values considering education as a public good and public responsibility. Policies will suffer and we will never be able to reach the goals we share if education is not perceived as a human right,” Gehrke says.

ESU would furthermore like to thank Androulla Vassilliou, who has served as European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, for her collaboration in the past.

The past five years have been interesting in the field of higher education with the new flagship programme Erasmus+ introduced at the beginning of this year. This programme was a big step forward in several aspects. Now we must monitor the implementation process and make sure that students are heard at all stages of European policy-making processes,” Gehrke concludes.

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For more information, please contact:

Elisabeth Gehrke, ESU Chairperson: +32/479.591.499 // or Robert Hlynur Baldursson, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 //

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.

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