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Women Commissioners call for '10 or more' in EU top jobs

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(BRUSSELS) - The women of the powerful European Commission, which steps down in autumn, launched a campaign on Thursday to get "10 or more" female commissioners named to the next EU executive.

"Female commissioners are very concerned that the next Commission may not have a sufficient number of women," said the EU's education and culture commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

"We are now drafting a letter asking (incoming Commission president) Jean-Claude Juncker to appoint at least 10 women," she added.

A letter circulated for signature by the nine women currently on the 28-member executive says Juncker needs to improve on the record of his predecessor, Jose Manuel Barroso, who gave around a third of jobs to women as the head of two commissions over the past decade.

"The European Union is committed to making continual progress towards gender equality. Such progress demands an increase, not a decrease in the number of female commissioners," the letter says.

"You deserve a flying start," it added. "With 10 or more female commissioners in your team you will get it."

Juncker, the controversial nominee to take over the Commission, is worried at the lack of women being proposed as member states put forward few female nominees.

Each government names a candidate for a commission job in Brussels, with the commission president only having a say over the portfolio and seniority given.

But so far, capitals are putting forward only men.

Finland has proposed ex premier Jyrki Katainen with Germany and Austria naming current commissioners, Guenther Oettinger and Johannes Hahn, for new five-year terms.

The names of a few female candidates are circulating, among them Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, and current Bulgarian commissioner Kristalina Georgieva -- both as candidates to take over from foreign policy chief, Britain's Catherine Ashton.

The Europolitics website on Thursday issued a list of 70 women Europe-wide close to governments or coalitions in office and "perfectly suited" to join the Commission.

Apart from Hungary and Latvia "it would be very easy to reverse the trend" of a male-dominated political scene in Brussels, it said.

EU lawmakers vote Tuesday on Juncker's nomination to take the helm of the Commission after he was picked by EU leaders late last month despite bitter opposition by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

If Juncker passes the parliament hurdle, he will submit a full line-up of 28 commissioners to lawmakers in October.

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