European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Team Juncker sets to work: what can we expect and hope for?

Today is the first working day of the new European Commission under the leadership of Jean-Claude Juncker. During the European Parliament hearings of the new Commissioners, ILGA-Europe watched carefully and noted the key outcomes from a LGBTI rights perspective for the next 5 years.

On 22 October, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, got his team of Commissioners approved by the European Parliament.

The Commission President together with his selected Commissioners play a huge role in shaping the priorities of the work of the European Commission in the next five years. In the run up to the elections for the European Parliament in May 2014, ILGA-Europe launched the Come Out campaign . The campaign set out ten key priorities of ILGA Europe for the coming five year term of the EP and called upon candidates for the European Parliament to sign up to the ten point pledge and thus publicly state their support for advancing the rights of LGBTI people in the EU. This ten points pledge is also a benchmark for the work of the European Commission until 2019.

ILGA-Europe closely followed the hearings of the designated commissioners, and the outcome was to a certain degree promising. Below are ILGA-Europe’s observations from the European Parliament hearings of the new Commissioners relevant to our work prior to their appointments.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
/ Vice-President of the Commission

Federica Mogherini

High Representative and Vice President Mogherini assured during the hearing that working for the rights of ethnic and sexual minorities “is part of [her] DNA.” She further stated that “I do it because I believe in it, not because it is a clause or a must.” This is a welcome and clear personal commitment to LGBTI equality. Moreover, when asked on human rights and roles of NGOs within in her portfolio, she added:

First Vice-President / Charter of Fundamental Rights

Frans Timmermans

Vice-President Timmermans spoke out in support to LGBTI equality many times during his hearing. He explicitly committed to defend fundamental rights, and emphasised the need of legal action to protect minorities at risk.

Commissioner Timmermans moreover gave a promise to work closely together with human rights defenders, and stated that he will not tolerate fundamental rights’ violations / lack of respect of fundamental rights by Member States:

Justice and Gender Equality

Vĕra Jourová

 

In her hearing, the Commissioner for Justice and Gender Equality Jourová, did at first not clearly commit to work for a LGBT EU strategy, which is currently being called for by 13 Member States. She stated:

However in an written answer to follow up questions form the LIBE Committee, Commissioner Jourová then explicitly supported a LGBT EU strategy:

Commissioner Jourová also confirmed that she will work towards unblocking the negotiations on the horizontal anti-discrimination directive in the European Council, without going into any details on how to best approach this difficult task. ILGA-Europe is looking forward to start working with Commissioner Jourová on both issues, the EU LGBTI strategy and the final adoption of the EU horizontal anti discrimination directive in the near future.

Health

Vytenis Andriukaitis

The Commissioner for Health committed himself to fight against discrimination against trans people in the field of healthcare during his hearing in the European Parliament.

Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

Marianne Thyssen

During the hearing of Commissioner Thyssen, no LGBTI specific questions where put forward. However, Commissioner Thyssen did commit to work for non-discrimination in a broader sense, which indicates willingness to advance also LGBTI rights in the area of employment.

Education

Tibor Navracsics

Commissioner Navracsics was not asked any LGBTI specific questions during the hearing. In his opening speech he stated:

However it is yet to be seen how Commissioner Navracsics will manifest his commitment to equality, and if it includes equality for LGBTI people. A strong political commitment to address homophobic and transphobic school bullying would be very much welcomed.

European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations

Johannes Hahn

No LGBTI specific questions were asked during the hearing of Commissioner Hahn. The Commissioner nonetheless underlined the importance of non-discrimination, protection of minorities, human rights and the role of civil society within the EU Enlargement process.

Other commissioners are... 

  • Budget & Human Resources - Kristalina Georgieva
  • Digital Single Market - Andrus Ansip
  • Energy Union - Maroš Šefčovič
  • Euro & Social Dialogue - Valdis Dombrovskis
  • Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness - Jyrki Katainen
  • Digital Economy & Society - Günther Oettinger
  • Trade - Cecilia Malmström
  • International Cooperation & Development - Neven Mimica
  • Climate Action & Energy - Miguel Arias Cañete
  • Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries - Karmenu Vella
  • Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship - Dimitris Avramopoulos
  • Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs - Pierre Moscovici
  • Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management - Christos Stylianides
  • Agriculture & Rural Development - Phil Hogan
  • Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union - Jonathan Hill
  • Transport - Violeta Bulc
  • Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs - Elżbieta Bieńkowska
  • Regional Policy - Corina Creţu
  • Competition - Margrethe Vestager
  • Research, Science and Innovation - Carlos Moedas