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Mairead McGuinness to be next Commissioner

by Frank Schnittger Fri Sep 4th, 2020 at 03:48:42 PM EST

Andrew McDowell and Mairead McGuinness candidates for European Commission role

The Cabinet has proposed Mairead McGuinness and Andrew McDowell as candidates to replace Phil Hogan at the European Commission.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will not be one of the Government's nominees for the role of European Commissioner.

Andrew McDowell is a former Fine Gael advisor and until recently vice-president of the European Investment Bank .

Andrew McDowell is a former backroom Fine Gael Economic advisor and a political non-entity. No one seriously believes he will get the job. But Commission President Ursula Van Der Leyen had made it clear she wanted "both a women and a man, not a man and a women nominees," in the words of Leo Varadkar. Basically no man need apply, and in the end no one of substance did. Why put your present job at risk by applying for another, when you know you won't get the job?

But this is a power grab by Ursula von der Leyen.  She has no right to insist on both a female and male nominee, and no right to make the final choice. She will now be under pressure to give Mairead McGuinness a meaningful portfolio, as Mairead stood a good chance of being the next President of the European Parliament and will not have wanted to give up that opportunity for a nothing job.

And yet Mairead, who is a very measured and articulate parliamentarian, has never had a ministerial post of any kind. From an Irish perspective she would have been much better off becoming the next President of the European Parliament. Foreign Minister, and former deputy Prime minister Simon Coveney would have been a much more experienced candidate had a meaningful role been made available for him.

Would Van Der Leyen have treated Germany or France with the same contempt, effectively vetoing a better qualified nominee? Does gender equality trump relevant experience and expertise? I have no doubt Mairead McGuinness will make an adequate Commissioner in some Commission role, but whatever happened to appointing the best person for the job?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Sep 6th, 2020 at 10:56:52 PM EST
Yeah, equality -- and power sharing -- come at a cost, and can generate injustices.
You, Frank, of all people, know this well enough.
Don't go flaky on us!

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 09:43:06 AM EST
I have been a lifelong feminist and fought for a number of causes alongside my late wife, but I don't want to see a conservative backlash a la Trump by men with partly legitimate grievances.

Nothing undermines feminism so much as the notion that a job has to go to a women regardless of qualifications, and nothing undermines public confidence in political institutions so much as the feeling the wrong people got the wrong jobs for the wrong reasons. We have suffered enough from incompetence in key roles.

Jobs for the boys was all wrong, but jobs for the girls little better even if only to correct historic grievances and imbalances. To a large extent this is a middle class female fetish in any case used by careerists for their own ends. Women in general often don't benefit, and especially not working class women and those with lower levels of education.

All that said, Mairead McGuinness is at worst a very marginal case, and at best she could make a very good commissioner. She started working life as an agricultural journalist and might make a good agriculture commissioner.

But it would be a double slap in the face for Ireland if Ursula van Der Leyen were to first insist on her choice of Commissioner and then offer her a mediocre job.  What would happen if Mairead then decided to stay as EP Vice President and take her chances with the EP presidency?

It would be a huge blow to Ireland, the Commission, and Van der Leyen if she ended up appointing a non-entity male technocrat no one really wanted in the job. But that is what you get when you say no men of relevant qualifications and experience need apply, and that is feminism at its worst.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 01:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

With tongue in cheek, I might mumble that a similar case could have been made against majority rule in South Africa... where are the Blacks qualified to be ministers...

But I will refrain. Instead, perhaps we could examine the downsides to enforced parity in places where it has been applied for a while... For example, Scandinavia?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 03:01:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know the South African case quite well, having been taught by the late Kadar Asmal, former President of the Irish anti-apartheid movement and later Minister for water and then Education in SA. I met many banned, jailed, and exiled anti-Apartheid activists of all backgrounds, did my Thesis on Apartheid predicting its demise, and later visited some former activists in SA after Mandela came to power - living there for 6 months on one occasion.

SA under Mandela was a near miraculous transformation achieved almost without major violence and prospered under his wise and competent leadership. He appointed ministers of all races, largely on the basis of competence, but also with an eye to racial balance and regional representation. Positive discrimination was introduced for blacks but generally only competent and honest people were appointed.

Since then it has been a case of a slow and steady decline, with corruption and crime rampant, and violence endemic. SA is now the most unequal society in the world, an inequality largely overseen by a rising black middle class within an overall long term declining economic growth trend.

As a result many blacks, particularly those in townships and rural areas are poorer in relative and absolute terms than ever, and many even hanker after the relative competence of some economic management in the Apartheid era if not its political repression and racial segregation.

Don't get me wrong, the defeat of Apartheid was one of the greatest political and moral victories of the last century, and much of what has happened since was predicted by me and was probably in large measure unavoidable. A person of the moral and political stature of a Mandela doesn't come along very often.

But basic competence and integrity is still a requirement of any functioning democracy, and we ignore it at our peril. The issues confronted by feminism in Ireland pale into insignificance compared to the repression under Apartheid, and women now, while grossly under-represent in the Dail (thanks to voter choices) are comparatively over represented at Ministerial level compared to the numbers elected.

There is the beginnings of an alt-right backlash at all things feminist in Ireland and I don't want to give it any more oxygen than absolutely unavoidable.  Women are becoming more dominant in many professions and are often more qualified for the senior jobs now on offer. There is little need for any further positive discrimination in many sectors as women are getting there on their own merits.

If we want more women in high political office we have to persuade the best qualified to stand for election and for voters to vote for them. Claiming they are "token" women or the beneficiaries of positive discrimination only undermines and demeans them. They are well able to take it from here.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 04:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Instead, perhaps we could examine the downsides to enforced parity in places where it has been applied for a while... For example, Scandinavia?
As far as I know, in Nordic countries we mostly aims for no discrimination whatsoever, be it positive or negative. There are some special cases where a minority quota can be considered when two applicants are equally qualified.

Positive discrimination is allowed when it's based on age or income so kids, students, unemployed and elderly people can get cheaper tickets. And war veterans get free swimming and other activities.

In general the legal framework leans more towards making sure members of minorities (subjective to conditions) have a way to become a qualified applicant rather than forcing the selection. As long as the most qualified is selected.

Not a perfect system, but there hasn't been many complaints.

by pelgus on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 05:32:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Feminism -- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.
But it is increasingly apparent that feminism cannot be trusted with the equality of the sexes. Women issues may have been historically ignored or misunderstood (arguably), but the solipsism and selective empathy of modern feminism regarding male existential issues is nearly complete. Whatever attention or education is given to male living, it only looks logically appropriate, without noticing the empirically deceptive influence on men's lives -- hence the Red Pill metaphor in those other circles. Does feminism reward its male allies well? With so much blanket indignation toward (particularly) white males, how much incentive is there not to be "deplorable"?

The other problem with feminism (as with other Social Justice movements) is that it will not know its limits. First, it promises the sky, then the Moon, then it goes for the planets and the Sun, and then beyond the Solar system... As a way of example:

Now Charles Darwin gets cancelled: Natural History museum will review 'offensive' exhibitions about the Father of Evolution because HMS Beagle's Galapagos voyage was 'colonialist'

That is pretty offensive to my scientific and historical sensibilities :]

Similarly, there are movements to quote women equally in Wikipedia and scientific articles, regardless of the historical input. Respect for merit and hard work is so passé? If feminism will not command its own advance, some masculine interventions will.

by das monde on Tue Sep 8th, 2020 at 09:05:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French official's attempts to outlaw 'I hate men' book backfires as sales skyrocket
Harmange's book questions whether women have good reason to hate men and notes that anger towards men can actually be "a joyful and liberating path".
This is not an isolated sentiment.

My native region in Eastern Europe is not rich in resources for many men to become big shots. Accordingly (me thinks), men are generally trashed there - mildly or not - for quite a while. If men are loathed globally by now, it is a sign that the civilization has passed its peak.

by das monde on Fri Sep 11th, 2020 at 09:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no doubt Mairead McGuinness will make an adequate Commissioner in some Commission role, but whatever happened to appointing the best person for the job?

Aren't you selling your countrywoman short? After all, McGuinness is First VP of the European Parliament. She didn't arrived there by accident, did she? Nor by "gender preference" either, right?

I understand we always want the best person for the job (I do too). However, Real Life, especially in politics, and even more so in European institutions politics, does not work that way. Compromises are inevitable, so let's move on.

Heck, "the best person for the job" was definitely Hogan, and his downfall was all of his own making: too much arrogance and hubris.What really did him in, I suspect, was his lamentable interview on RTÉ and not keeping level with his boss VDL. Had Hogan been a little less full of himself, we still would have an excellent Trade Commissioner to negotiate with the US and with the UK. Now, I understand that Didier Reynders might land the job (of course, it's all speculation at this point).

by Bernard on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 05:16:30 PM EST
And I hope the fact that she topped the poll for Vice President indicates she would have a good chance of being President next time around. Mairead is a former journalist turned parliamentarian who is an excellent spokesperson. She (to my knowledge) has never run anything bigger than her family, so whether she would be good at running a Ministry or a Commission directorate is somewhat unknown.

What is known is that she is well regarded by her peers in Parliament, and I would rate her present job higher than a non-job in the Commission and becoming President of the EP higher than a mid-range Commission job. Meanwhile we have a foreign Minister who did a good job on Brexit, securing a UN Security Council seat, and improving relations with a wide range of countries worldwide declining to offer his services because the President of the Commission had effectively told him not to bother.

Where is the democracy in that? He was the Irish government's preferred nominee and had good relationships on the Council. If the EP had said he wasn't suitable, that is one thing. At least it has a mandate to approve/disapprove Commissioners. But the EP had no say either. It is all down to Ursula, and her right to do what she did is not enshrined in any treaty. If Brexit goes pear shaped, expect strained relations between any Irish government and the European Commission.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 06:39:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would Van Der Leyen have treated Germany or France with the same contempt, effectively vetoing a better qualified nominee?


VDL has always asked for all countries to submit two names, of each gender. VDL can ask, but each country is free to propose one name only. Last year, few countries actually did actually propose both a male and a female nominee: Romania being one of them, I think. Ireland agreed to propose a man and a woman nominees, but the Irish government was not strictly obligated to do so. The EC president can ask a country to propose someone else (Juncker reportedly rejected up to six candidates back in 2014), but nominating commissioners is first a member country's prerogative: the president will then assign a portfolio.

Macron initially proposed Sylvie Goulard, but she was voted down by the EP, along with  candidates from Romania and Hungary. Breton was nominated later, in October.

by Bernard on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 05:47:49 PM EST
The only power VD Leyen has is to sanction a country by giving its nominee a non-job in the Commission. If she insists on a male and female nominee, no senior male candidates will allow their names to go forward on the presumption they will be passed over. The only way to prevent this power grab is for the Council to make a joint decision that only one nomination per country will be allowed, but even then the presumption will be that vd Leyen will favour female nominees for senior jobs. She risks losing the confidence of member states if she pushes this too far.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 06:47:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Valdis Dombrovskis named new EU trade commissioner - Politico.eu
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis will be the EU's new trade commissioner and Mairead McGuinness will be the new Irish commissioner with responsibility for financial services, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Tuesday.

Dombrovsksis, who has served as acting trade commissioner since the resignation of Phil Hogan last month, will relinquish some of the current responsibilities in his broad economic portfolio, putting McGuinness, a veteran member of the European Parliament, in charge of financial services and financial stability.

The selection of Dombrovsksis, a former Latvian prime minister, puts responsibility for EU trade policy in the hands of one of the Commission's most seasoned and well-respected officials, and it keeps the trade portfolio under the control of the center-right European People's Party -- von der Leyen's own political family.

Financial services: not exactly a 'non-job'.
by Bernard on Tue Sep 8th, 2020 at 09:02:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. She did well out of it. In some ways financial services are more important than a new EU/UK trade deal as 70% of the UK economy is services of one kind or another. They are also increasingly important from an Irish and EU perspective as the EU cannot really become an economic superpower if its financial services are managed from the city of London. European financial capitals will keen to grab a share of that action after the transition period and Boris is delusional if he thinks London can hang on to it indefinitely.

Presumably ensuring this is done in an integrated way across the EU will be a key part of McGuinness' role.

In some ways I am relieved Ireland no longer has the trade portfolio as we were the weakest link in any EU resolve to tough out a trade war with the UK post a no-deal Brexit. UK Brexiteer sources always delight in pointing out that many economic studies have shown Ireland will suffer an  even larger decline in GDP post a no deal Brexit than the UK.

I remain sceptical about this. Ireland's exports to the UK are down from 90% of our total exports pre-EU membership to about 10% now and declining. The agriculture sector will be hit hard but I suspect much of those "exports" will leak across the border appearing as internal movements within N. Ireland/GB.

I suspect this situation will be tolerated by both sides as a necessary "ambiguity" until such time as a trade deal is ultimately agreed. With the UK currently threatening to renege on the already signed and ratified Withdrawal Agreement I can see all UK exports being blocked at Calais until the UK comes into compliance with the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Irish Economy has declined by 6.1% GDP in the second quarter with domestic demand (a more accurate reflection of the real economy) declining by 16.4%. But exports are booming so I suspect the whole economy will adjust to a no-deal Brexit rather more quickly than most commentators seem to expect.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 8th, 2020 at 12:44:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Politico.eu, again:

There was another, unspoken, political message in von der Leyen's decision that reflected her distaste for disruption. By taking the highly prominent trade portfolio away from Ireland, she issued a clear warning to other national governments about the perils of letting EU commissioners become ensnared in domestic political controversies.

Hogan's appearance at a golf club dinner that violated coronavirus guidelines on large gatherings, and his alleged breach of other travel rules, might have been survivable had top Irish officials, including Prime Minister Micheál Martin and Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, not publicly condemned Hogan's actions and called on him to reconsider his position in Brussels.

by Bernard on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 at 08:51:32 AM EST
Van Der Leyen may have a distaste for disruption, but democracy in action can also be quite disruptive, and for legitimate reasons. Brexiteers (and others) have always characterised the Commission as an unaccountable elite impervious to political pressures.

That has never been more than partly true - plenty of Commissioners have failed to achieve the approval of the European parliament. What was wrong here is that the European Parliament (or relevant subcommittee) was even sitting and never got to debate the issue. Hogan should have been accountable to them.

Martin and Varadkar were always going to respond to domestic political pressures. Hogan's behaviour created an outrage similar to that created by Cummings in the UK. But they had no power to (and didn't) demand his sacking. Van Der Leyen could have simply referred the matter to the EP and let Hogan make his case there.

Some lesser sanction by the EP might have result in the whole matter blowing over after a couple of weeks. The current clumsy process whereby the EP can only approve/disapprove of the Commission as a whole needs to be reformed. Commissioners should be subject to regular hearings before the relevant sub-committees of the EP and censored or sanctioned by a range of measures if they are deemed to fall short of the standards required.

That is democracy in action, not the baying of the media or the howling of the mob. There was/is a lot of popular frustration at the restrictions of the lockdown, and it had to be vented somehow. If an Irish Cabinet Minister had to resign in consequence, why not an EU Commissioner?

The answer is that it is for the EP to decide, and I am surprised there haven't been more calls for it to have done so. Can there not be even a standing committee to deal with such matters in August while the rest of Parliament is on leave? It is time the EP became more relevant and engaged with matters that concern the citizenry.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 at 10:37:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Commission is what it is... the fact that the president is chosen by the Council, rather than elected by Parliament, is its original sin.

But given this, the rest of its functioning is largely modeled on governmental norms in constituent nations. A  Prime Minister is responsible, at least in theory, before Parliament, but is free to choose her own Ministers; the Commission's executive president, in the current confederal model, must work with the pool of talent made available by governments.

However, in at least one respect, the Commission model is more democratic than that of any member nation (that I know of), in that Parliament gets to audition and confirm -- or reject -- each nominee. And increasingly uses this right to chuck out those national nominees that appear too extremist, incompetent or corrupt.

But parliamentary sanctions for sitting Commissioners ? How could that possibly work?

I'm not seeing any power grab here : Hogan resigned, inconveniently but rightly; the President solicits nominees, but has a lot of coercitive power over who is an acceptable nominee, and what job they get. And that's as it should be. Obviously the nominated person should be subject to a Parliamentary hearing, and approval or rejection.

As for the gender balance thing, I think van der Leyden has a pretty clear mandate for that, both from Council and Parliament, but must be free to implement it as best she can within the Framework. I think it's a good call on her part to insist on a woman.  

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 at 05:22:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Parliamentary subcommittees in Ireland (and the USA) have the right to hold hearings into controversies and demand that the relevant Minister attend to give an account of their actions/stewardship. They can vote no confidence if they want him/her to resign, or a vote of censure if they want to give him/her a formal warning. If the vote is confirmed by the whole parliament it should be mandatory.  Lesser sanctions could include recommendations to perform specific remedial actions and all the implied criticism they contain. The Presidentof the Commission/Prime Minister could also reshuffle, demote, sack the errant Minister if they are deemed to damage the cabinet/college as a whole.  The whole process would greatly increase the profile/relevance of the parliament and the perceived accountability of the executive.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 10th, 2020 at 03:29:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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