Cecilia Malmström : "Certainly some are trying to pat me on my head, but I am 1,83 m tall so that can be quite difficult..."

Septième volet de notre série « Drôles de dames » avec Cécilia Malmström, 42 ans, Commissaire aux affaires intérieures. Si elle ne prise guère le tailleur rose fuschia, cette Suédoise membre du parti libéral est la digne successeure de Margot W bien-aimée.

Does the fact that you are women play a role in your daily job as a commissioner? In what sense ?

There are two aspects of this question. The first is: Do people treat me differently because of my gender? I truly hope they don't, I expect to be met and measured by the same standards as any man. That being said, my portfolio consists of files that some people might describe as traditionally male, such as border control, the EU's internal crisis management, and the fight against terrorism and organised crime. There are certainly some people trying to pat me on my head, but I am 1,83 m tall so that can be quite difficult...The second aspect is whether my gender influences the decisions I make. I don't believe in dividing values and characteristics into male and female; I got this job because of my ideas, values and experiences as a politician. But I do believe that we women have an obligation to stand up for each other and break the glass ceilings that I think we all - Commissioner or not - face in one way or another.

With only 9 women appointed as commissioner, the parity men/women is far from being respected in the Barroso Commission II. Why? How is it possible that there are so few women at EU-high responsibility job?

It is of course not good for the legitimacy of the EU: women make up a majority of the European population and should be fairly represented in the EU institutions. Political decisions should reflect the needs of the entire population. In order for our society to become more equal from a gender point of view, there is a need for more female role models. I believe the European Commission can play an important part in that, and that EU institutions should statute a good example. It is a problem that only one third of Commissioners are women, but we must remember that it is the Member States who nominate the Commissioners, and that the unequal gender representation among Commissioners reflects a broader pattern in the EU and in the world. We have to work actively on a larger scale to change this pattern.

Do you think that EU institutions could be qualified as "macho"? Did you have any problem during your career to impose you? Macho is a strong word, but I suppose that EU institutions, as well as many other organisations, have been shaped by their predominantly male history. I don't consider my working environment as macho, but then the European Commission in general is very well aware of gender equality issues, promoting equal participation of women and men on all levels - not least when it comes to decision-making. However, when you look at gender issues from a broader perspective, it is a serious problem that four out of ten European women are not yet on the EU labour market. I have fought to include concrete goals about increased female participation on the labour market in the EU 2020 strategy. Not only because it is a gender equality issue, or because it would improve women's freedom and right to self determination, but also because there is a huge economic potential right in front of us! We cannot afford to only use the talents, skills and ideas of half of the European population.

If you could change something in the EU, what would it be?

There are many things I would like to change. If I didn't want to change things, I wouldn't have this job. I want the EU to have a common migration and asylum policy, based on values such as dignity, decency, solidarity and respect for human rights. I want to create more legal ways to the EU, and I want that people coming here from outside of the Union are better received and better integrated in the future. I want cross-border organised crime to decrease, as we improve police cooperation between EU Member States, and I want the citizens of the EU to feel safe. I am working hard to reach those goals within the years to come. However, if I had the authority, I would also like to reform the EU's budget. But that's not really within my portfolio.

If you could define Europe in 3 words?

Europe is too diverse to describe in three words, and that is the charm of it. But we should strive to make Europe more open, dynamic and tolerant.


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