Commissioner-designate Helena Dalli, the Maltese candidate for the equality portfolio on EU Gender Strategy and the fight against discrimination is expected to be approved after she was quizzed in a 3 hour hearing before members of the European Parliament. At the end of the hearing, she has received the two-thirds of the votes needed to be approved as commissioner. During her introductory speech, Helena Dalli said that discrimination is “harming both individuals and society as a whole,” and that she would fight for a Europe “free of discrimination”.
Once approved, she committed to establish, within three months, a Task Force on Equality to build an inter-sectional approach on gender mainstreaming in all EU policies. She also promised an EU Gender Equality Strategy, with new measures on issues such as pay transparency, the gender pay gap, violence against women and gender stereotypes.
MEPs welcomed the President-elect’s decision to appoint an Equality Commissioner for the first time. They put forward questions on several files blocked for years in the EU Council, such as the Women on Boards Directive, the Anti-discrimination Directive or the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women. Helena Dalli said that she would do her utmost to unblock these essential files, by meeting with ministers to convince them to move forward.
MEPs also questioned her on the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights, the digital gap faced by women, disability, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriages, and the rights of LGBTI people, in particular transgender and inter-sex people.
Based on committees’ recommendations, the Conference of Presidents will decide on 17 October if the European Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote on whether or not to approve the Commission as a whole on 23 October, in Strasbourg