Helena Dalli nominated for equality portfolio in Von der Leyen's European Commission

Malta's first female European Commission nominee will be responsible for equality

Helena Dalli was nominated Malta's next European Commissioner by the Prime Minister
Helena Dalli was nominated Malta's next European Commissioner by the Prime Minister

Helena Dalli will hold the equality portfolio in the next European Commission if she is approved by the European Parliament in the coming weeks.

Dalli, who is Malta's first European Commission female nominee, was awarded the portfolio by European Commission President designate Ursula von der Leyen. All Commissioners will have to win the approval of the European Parliament before they can take up their posts. 

Von der Leyen announced the portfolios of her commission on Tuesday afternoon.

Dalli said following the announcement that she was honoured and humbled to have been handed the Equality portfolio.

She thanked von der Leyen and said she was looking forward to getting to work.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that Dali was the “perfect choice” to implement an “ambitious equality agenda”.

“Thanks to Helena’s resolve and Malta’s positive track record in this area an EU Commission with gender parity will only be the starting point,” Muscat said.  

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia said the party welcomed von der Leyen’s “gender-balance target for the new Commission”.

“We will support Helena Dalli to become Commissioner for Equality. Steps ahead have been made but EU needs to take further concrete measures to strengthen equality,” Delia tweeted.

Former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil was also quick to congratulate Dalli. 

"Good portfolio for Helena Dalli who has a positive track record on equality issues that she can share at European level,” Busuttil said. “Certainly better than on justice,” he added.

In a statement, the Maltese government said that Dalli’s selection was a testament to Malta’s positive change over recent years, adding that the country is now considered as a “beacon of hope, as described by several respected international institutions”.

Who is Helena Dalli?

Helena Dalli stepped down as European affairs and equality minister the moment her nomination to the commission was made known.

Between 2013 and 2017 she held the role of minister for social dialogue, consumer affairs and civil liberties. The European affairs portfolio was added after the 2017 election.

Since 2013, Dalli spearheaded wide-ranging reforms, from the historic introduction of civil unions in 2014 to the banning of gay conversion therapy.

Malta rose to the top of the ILGA-Europe rankings for gay rights, a position it has retained for four consecutive years.

Dalli holds a PhD in political sociology and lectures in economic and political sociology, public policy, and sociology of law at the University of Malta.

One of the veterans within the Labour parliamentary group, Dalli was first elected to the House in 1996 and was appointed parliamentary secretary for Women’s Rights within the Office of the Prime Minister.

The MP from Żabbar has been elected to parliament in every election since. In the last election she was elected on two districts.

Commission based on tasks not hierarchies 

Before announcing the full list of Commissioners, von der Leyen said she had selected a diverse group from across the EU’s different member states. “A team that brings together diversity of experience and competence,” von der Leyen said.

She said she wanted to have a commission that is “focused on the issues at hand and that can provide answers”.

The new commission would have a structure based on tasks not hierarchies, von der Leyen said. “We need to be able to deliver on the issues that matter the most, rapidly and with determination.”

The new College of Commissioners will have eight Vice-Presidents, three of whom will have the role of Executive Vice-President and they will be responsible for the EU’s top priorities.

Vice-Presidents, Von der Leyen said, will steer the Commission’s work on the most important “overarching issues”, including the European Green Deal, a Europe fit for the digital age, an economy that works for people, protecting our European way of life, a stronger Europe in the world and a new push for European democracy.

The College of Commissioners will be as follows:

  1. Ursula von der Leyen (Germany): President

Executive Vice-Presidents:

  1. Frans Timmermans (the Netherlands): Will coordinate work on the European Green Deal. He will also manage climate action policy, supported by the Directorate-General for Climate Action.
  2. Margrethe Vestager (Denmark): Will coordinate the Commission’s agenda on a Europe fit for the digital age and will also serve as the Commissioner for Competition, supported by the Directorate General for Competition.
  3. Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia): Will coordinate the work on an Economy that Works for People and be the Commissioner for financial services, supported by the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union.

Vice-Presidents:

  1. Josep Borrell (Spain): HR/VP-designate, A Stronger Europe in the World
  2. Věra Jourová (Czech Republic): Values and Transparency
  3. Margaritis Schinas (Greece): Protecting our European Way of Life
  4. Maroš Šefčovič (Slovakia): Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight
  5. Dubravka Šuica (Croatia): Democracy and Demography

Commissioners:

  1. Johannes Hahn (Austria): Budget and Administration reporting directly to von der Leyen.
  2. Didier Reynders (Belgium): Justice, including the rule of law.
  3. Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria): Innovation and Youth.
  4. Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus): Health.
  5. Kadri Simson (Estonia): Energy.
  6. Jutta Urpilainen (Finland): International Partnerships
  7. Sylvie Goulard (France): Internal Marke, including the new Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space.
  8. László Trócsányi (Hungary): Neighbourhood and Enlargement
  9. Phil Hogan (Ireland): Trade
  10. Paolo Gentiloni (Italy): Economy
  11. Virginijus Sinkevičius (Lithuania): Environment and Oceans
  12. Nicolas Schmit (Luxembourg): Jobs
  13. Helena Dalli (Malta): Equality
  14. Janusz Wojciechowski (Poland): Agriculture
  15. Elisa Ferreira (Portugal): Cohesion and Reforms
  16. Rovana Plumb (Romania): Transport
  17. Janez Lenarčič (Slovenia): Crisis Management
  18. Ylva Johansson (Sweden): Home Affairs

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